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A Bachelor Girl in London 

The Gifts of Enemies 

The Children's Book of London 






New York: G, P, PUTNAM'S SONS 
London: METHUBN & CO. 


!!ttr|^ I 




• > 


> % 









' VII. 


"-- IX. 







































MORNIHG MMPLOnXKTS .... Froutispiea 

From m P i umiiig by Bckbtst. 


From a Potrait by Edwaxd Busxet. 


Frani a FamDy Ifiniatnre. 


FroBi a FamDy Ifuuatore. 


Fnom a I^ummg by Johk HomEE. 


Fran a Diawiiip by H. SiNGaJBTOK. 

JANE AUSTEN . - ^ t* 5^ 

From a Fartrait by facr SSster CassakikAu 

THE HAPFV COTTAGERS . . • 99 9» 74 

Fhxn a Puntiog by Gbobge McKUunx 

n ji 


From a Drawing by ix Loothekbodig. 


From an Old Engnnring. 


From a Piainting by Qaaajss. Mobiavd. 

COWPER . • n 1% 192 

From a Painting by (^ORGS Romket, in the 
possession of BL Vangfaan Jofanaoo* Esq. 


VICTORY OF LORD DUNCAN (CAMPERDOWN), 1 797 Facing f age 2o8 
From a Painting by J« S. Copley. 



From a Contemporary Engraving. 

DRESSING TO GO OUT . . • ,1 » 230 

From a Drawing by P. W. Tomkins. 


From a Painting by Sir Joshua Reynolds. 


CHARING CROSS, 1795 • • • • » » 285 

From an Engraving in the Crace Collection. 


From an Engraving by Wilkinson in Londina 

THE REV. GEORGE CRABBE . . • » » 293 

From a Drawing by Sir F. Chantrey, in the 
National Portrait Gallery. 


From a Painting by BUNBUKY. 





OF Jane Austen's life there is little to tell, and that 
little has been told more than once by writers 
whose relationship to her made them competent to do 
so. It is impossible to make even microscopic additions 
to the sum-total of the facts already known of that simple 
biography, and if by chance a few more original letters 
were discovered they could hardly alter the case, for in 
truth of her it may be said^ " Story there Is notu: to tell, 
sir.** To the vety pertinent question which naturally 
follows, reply may thus be given* Jane Austen stands 
absolutely alone, unapproached^ in a quality in which 
women are usually supposed to be deficient, a humorous 
and brilliant insight into the fcdbles of human nature, 
and a strong sense o{ the ludicrous. As a writer in The 
Times (November 25, 1904^ neatly puts Jt^ ^ Of its kind 
the oomedy of Jane Austen is f^>compatf'able. It is utterly 
memlessu Prandf^ victims of their illusiotys^ her men 
and womcD aie utterly bare to C4ir orider^tanding, and 
tlicir gynliofis are mtaa^A/7f comic^ Therefe^e as a 
pfTKwaSty^as a caHral figure, too mocfa cannot be written 


about her, and however much is said or written the 
mystery of her genius will still always baffle conjecture, 
always lure men on to fresh attempts to analyse and 
understand her. 

The data of Jane Austen's life have been repeated 
several times, as has been said, but beyond a few 
trifling allusions to her times no writer has thought it 
necessary to show up the background against which her 
figure may be seen, or to sketch from contemporary 
records the environment amid which she developed. 
Yet surely she is even more wonderful as a product of 
her times than considered as an isolated figure ; there- 
fore the object of this book is to show her among the 
scenes wherein she moved, to sketch the men and women 
to whom she was accustomed, the habits and manners of 
her class, and the England with which she was familiar. 
Her life was not long, las ting onlyj ixuax-*^^ to 1 8 1 7, but 
it covered notable times, and with such an epoch for 
presentation, with such a central figure to link together 
the sequence of events, we have a theme as inspiring as 
could well be found. 

In many ways the times of Jane Austen are more 
removed from our own than the mere lapse of years seems 
to warrant. The extraordinary outburst of invention and 
improvement which took place in the reign of Queen 
Victoria, lifted manners and customs in advance of what 
two centuries of ordinary routine would have done. Sir 
Walter Besant in his London in the Eighteenth Century 
says, " The passing of the Reform Bill in 1832, the intro- 
duction of steamers on the sea, the beginning of railways 
on land, make so vast a break between the first third 
and last two-thirds of the nineteenth century, that I feel 
justified in considering the eighteenth century as lasting 
down to the year 1837; in other words, there were so 
few changes, and these so slight, in manners, customs, or 




mrrr'acrsL --'v; 

a ^Hmui^ jr 

t tkt*.'!! t >«»-.J 


suMiy oi 

cariicf dm, if soft < iii nffirrvim! j iircix. CSssrircxr SriuiTt' 
or GcQfge Flint'. So br as I sxc wso^ 3ir wmar cih 
J Sine Aossten his over iobcssc nc Ttti^ jvtoicic 
Her stories aaic as SrsIi mad acau as 2^ fiqr 
written, her dnoncbecs i n'^lfl. he xstr^duoed to us is 
the^ flcdi any time, and, wtdb the cxce^ocm of a tefijiTTi 
qaaintncss of righnynth-cemgy ilavaansg, there is 
nothiDg to farii^ hcfcve vs the sitnkzz^ GiSerenoe be- 
tween their cnviioiiiiicat and oor own. It is true that 
the long coach 


to this, but they are the only marked exception. If 

. we had never had an illustrated edition of Jane Austen, 
nine people out of ten at least would have formed 
mental pictures of the characters dressed in early 
Victorian, or perhaps even in present-day, costume. It 
is only since Hugh Thompson and C. E. Brock have 
put before us the costumes of the age, that our ideas 
have accommodated themselves, and we realise how 
Catherine Morland and Isabella Thorpe looked in their 
high-waisted plain gowns, when they had arrived at that 
stage of intimacy which enabled them to pin ** up each 
other's trains for the dance." Or how attractive Fanny 

' Price was in her odd high-crowned hat, with its nodding 
plume, and the open-necked short-sleeved dress, as she 
surveyed herself in the glass while Miss Crawford snapped 
the chain round her neck. The knee-breeches of the 
men, their slippers and cravats, the neat, close-fitting 

. clerical garb, these things we owe to the artists, — they 
are taken for granted in the text. It would have seemed 
as ridiculous to Jane Austen to describe them, as for a 
present-day novelist to mention that a London man 
Qiade a call in a frock-coat and top-hat. 

Yet her word-pictures are living and detailed, filled 
in with innumerable little touches. How can we recon- 

^ cile the seeming inconsistency ? The explanation prob- 
ably is, that without acting consciously, she, with the 
unerring touch of real genius, chose that which was 
lasting, and of interest for all time, from that which was 
ephemeral. In her sketches of human nature, in the 
strokes with which she describes character, no line is too 
fine or too delicate for her attention ; but in the case of 
manners and customs she gives just the broad outlines 
that serve as a setting. Her novels are novels of 

But the problem is not confined to the books ; in her 




Itttefs to kcr sifiter, I^mmkIi tIihl is ^iTwlmt 

DofasQD in Goe cf lus acndrahae pre&aes tr ^le 

the antkpianxn aimaCatar is struck hy thor eiujefeji^ 

in this oentmy-dd reoord, nothing more fi tted for the 
of his lugcjiiiuty that snch an ohsnijgte gsmc at 

And this is true also of her kttcss. If ore remark- 
able sdll is the e utu e afascxMC of oosninent oc the great 
events which thrilled the vork} ; mith the cxocpticvn cf 
an allusion to the death of Sir John Moon; v« hear ix> 
whisper (rf the wars and uphearak which happened during 
her life. It is true that the Rci^lution in Franoe, wiiicfa 
shook monardis on their thrones, occurred befaie the first 
date of the pufalidied fetters, yet her correspondence 
a time when faattfes at sea were chronicled almost 
tinuously, when an invaaon by France was an 
present tenor; Tra&lgar and Waterioo were not histofy, 
but contemporaiy events; but dioi^h Jane must have 
heard and discussed diese matten, no echo finds its w^ 
into her lively and amusing budgets of chit-chat to her 
sister. Of course women were not s up posed to read the 
papers in those dajrs, but with two sailor brothers the 
news must have often been personal and intimate, and 
she was, according to the notions of her time, wdl 
educated ; yet we search in vain for any allurion to such 
contemporary matters. It may be objected that the 
letters of a modem girl to a sister would hardly touch 
on questions which agitate the puUic, but there ore 
several replies to this : in the first place, finr such exciting 
events have occurred in recent times as happened during 
Jane Austen's life ; our war in Afiica was a mere trifle 


in comparison with the bloody field of Waterloo, where 
Blucher and Wellington lost 30,000 men, or the 
thrilling naval victory of Trafalgar ; and stupendous as 
have been the recent battles between Russia and Japan, 
they affect us only indirectly — England is not herself 
involved in them, nor are her sons being slain daily. 
In the second place, surely even the South African War 
would probably produce some comment in letters, 
especially if the writer had brothers in the army as Jane 
had brothers in the navy. Thirdly, letters in Jane 
Austen's time were one great means of news, for news- 
papers were not so easy to get, and were much more 
costly than now, so that we expect to find more of con- 
temporary events in letters than at a time like the 
present, when telegrams and columns of print save us the 
trouble of recording such matters in private. 

In the forty-two years between 1775 and 1817, 
vast discoveries of world-wide importance were made. 
When Jane Austen was born. Captain Cook was still 
in the midst of his exploration, and the map of the 
world was being unrolled day by day. Though New 
Zealand and Australia had been discovered by the 
Dutch in the previous century, they were all but 
unknown to England. Six years only before her birth 
had the great navigator charted and mapped New 
Zealand for the first time, also the east coast of 
Australia, and had christened New South Wales. 
When she was four years old. Cook was murdered by 
the natives at Hawaii *^ 

The atlas from which she learnt her earliest 
geography lessons was therefore very different from 
those now in use. The well-known cartographer, S. 
Dunn, published an atlas in 1774, where Australia is 
marked certainly, but as though otie saw it through 
distorted glasses; the east coast. Cook's discovery, is 



dearly defined, the rest is very vague; and the fact 
that Tasmania was an island had not then been dis- 
coveted, for it appears as a projecting headland. In 
the same general way is New Zealand treated, and 
neither has a separate sheet to itself; beyond their 
appearance on the nuq> of the world, they aie ignored. 
Japan also looks queer to modem eyes, it almost 
touches China at both ends, enclosing a land-locked sea. 
The epoch was one ot change and enlargement in 
other than geographical directions. In the thirty years 
before Jane Austen's birth an immense improvement 
had taken place in the position of women. Mrs. 
Montagu, in 1750, had made bold strokes for the 
freedom and recognition of her sex. The epithet 
''blue-stocking," which has survived with such extra* 
ordinary tenacity, was at first given, not to the clever 
women who attended Mrs. Montagu's informal recep- 
tions, but to her men friends, who were allowed to 
come in the grey or blue worsted stockings of daily 
life, instead of the black silk considered di riguemr for 
parties. Up to this time, personal appearance and 
cards had been the sole resources for a leisured dame 
of the upper classes, and the language of gallantry 
was the only one considered fitting for her to hear. 
By Mrs. Montagu's efforts it was gradually recognised 
that a woman might not only have sense herself, but 
might prefer it should be spoken to her; and that 
because the minds of women had long been left 
uncultivated they were not on that account unworthy 
of cultivation. Hannah More describes Mrs. Montagu 
as ''not only the finest genius, but the finest lady I 
ever saw . . . her form (for she has no body) is delicate 
even to fragility; her countenance the most animated 
in the world ; the sprightly vivacity of fifteen, with the 
judgment and experience of a Nestor." 


In art there had never before been seen in England 
such a trio of masters as Reynolds, Gainsborough, and 
Romney. Isolated portrait painters of brilliant genius, 
though not always nsitive born, there had been in 
England, — Holbein, Vandyke, Lely, Kneller, and 
Hogarth are all in the first rank, — but that three 
such men as the trio above should flourish con- 
temporaneously was little short of miraculous. 

In I775» Sir Joshua had passed the zenith of his 
fame, though he lived until 1792. Gainsborough, who 
was established in a studio in Schomberg House, Pall 
Mall, was in 177S at the beginning of his most suc- 
cessful years ; his rooms were crowded with sitters of 
both sexes, and no one considered they had proved 
their position in society until they had received the 
hall-mark of beii^g painted by him. He was only 
sixty-one at his death in 1788. Romney, who lived 
to 1802, never took quite the same rank as the other 
two, yet he was popular enough at the same time as 
Gainsborough ; Lady Newdigate {The Cheverels of 
Cheverel Manor) mentions going to have her portrait 
painted by him, and says that "he insists upon my 
having a rich white satin with a long train made by 
Tuesday, and to have it left with him all the summer. 
It is the oddest thing I ever knew." Sir Thomas 
Lawrence and Hoppner carried on the traditions of 
the portrait painters, the former living to 1830; with 
names such as these it is easy to judge art was in a 
flourishing condition. 

Among contemporary landscape painters, Richard 
Wilson, who has been called "the founder of English 
Landscape," lived until 1782. But his views, though 
vastly more natural than the stilted conventional style 
that preceded them, seem to our modem eyes, trained 
to what is " natural," still to be too much conven- 




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In one of Lord Langdale's letters, dated 1803, we 
have a vivid description of these horrors : '' We left that 
place [Dover] about six o'clock last Saturday morning, 
and arrived at Calais at four in the aftemooa Our 
passage was rather disagreeable, the wind being chiefly 
against us, and rain sometimes falling in torrents. I 
never witnessed a more curious scene than our landing. 
When the packet-boat had come to within two miles 
of the coast of France, we were met by some French 
rowing boats in which we were to be conveyed on 
shore. The French sailors surrounded us in the most 
clamorous and noisy manner, leaping into the packet 
and bawling and shouting so loud as to alarm the 
ladies on board very much. To these men, however, 
we were to consign ourselves, and we entered their 
boats, eight passengers going in each. When we got 
near the shore, we were told it was impossible for the 
boat to get close to land, on account of the tide being 
so low, and that we must be carried, on the men's 
shoulders. We had no time to reflect on this plan 
before we saw twelve or fourteen men running into the 
water, — they surrounded our boat and laid hold of it 
with such violence, that one might have thought they 
meant to sink it, and fairly pulled us into their arms. 
. . . For my part I laughed heartily all the time, but 
a lady who was with us was so much frighted, that I 
was obliged to support her in my arms a considerable 
time before she was able to stand." 

It was not only in tbe arms of men that passengers 
were thus carried ashore, in Napolearis British Visitors 
and Captives^ by J. G. Alger, there is a still more extra- 
ordinary account quoted from a contemporary letter. 
" In an instant the boathead was surrounded by a 
throng of women up to their middles and over, who 
were there to carry us on shore. Not being aware of 


anns of 
whanby tfaooe 
deloged widi acat 

tnairtfi, I tung iiiy9c«£ 
without luciic, and 
shocc^ but ohc poor 
fingers, and feU 

^ ^ 

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"For j£4, I39L7>3« c 
and C?^^**, starts^ 
by the old aod flrg« 
with die ne Nctse I/soie -ses 


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the ciiiwiiig takio^ tsx -tr l'i«3 ^-.v^r. c-;> ^^ ^.t r 

hour, took fsStj^MC sTMct ix ^j^ rj-^^^t ^jr ^ ^j^c/C- 
some c axria g e caam w 'ius*)^ i/'<^^A:t n «^ 5.*'^ wji^^v^'^'. 
to the F.^^tfsir yj^.^r-^^f^ v^*./c vr c^^cc >/ 
or five i£xjm-fsa»'£.Msr^ jcuc ti-it tts«t^ s>: ia>:» 
an hoar/' 

of the Cog? i hf a < vas iMt^ V- Z-^^.tit j^tvj;^ -v-t^-i^uwc 
of the itrnrtwiT fSaOr isf vsr vfr.vt^^a ut ^ti/C ^eitijcr 
Spain or FiaeDCc; »t xc ainr 'caa^ s>uct. :Sss. <;ii^^t/OiV^ 
would seeci to have jsol -^ut^ -uir&o^ uv uvjr^ <i«a./ 
nmndy and «a» siei^er ^n^tx tiiv^A^ 


has been built Of the old house, Lord Brabourne, 
great-nephew to Jane Austen, writes: "The house 
standing in the valley was somewhat better than the 
ordinary parsonage houses of the day ; the old-fashioned 
hedgerows were beautiful, and the country around 
sufficiently picturesque for those who have the good 
taste to admire country scenery." 

Steventon is a very small place, lying in a network 
of lanes about seven miles from Basingstoke. The 
nearest points on the high-roads are Deane, on the 
Andover Road, and Popham Lane on the Winchester 
Road. There is an inn at the corner of Popham Lane 
to this day, and that there was an inn there in Jane 
Austen's time we know, for Mrs. Lybbe Powys, writing 
in 1792, says: "We stopped at Winchester and lay 
that night at a most excellent inn at Popham Lane." 
At this time, curiously enough, her fellow-travellers 
were Dr. Cooper, Jane Austen's uncle, and his son and 
daughter, though whether the party made a detour to 
visit the rectory we do not know. Of course at that 
time Jane was of no greater importance than any 
seventeen-year-old daughter of a country clergyman, 
and there would be no reason to mention her. 

It is difficult to find Steventon, so little is there of 
it, and that so much scattered ; a few cottages, a farm, 
a^nd beyond^ half a mile away, thtfchurch, with a pump 
in a field near to mark the site of the old rectory house 
where Jane Austen was bom. This is all that remains 
of her time. The new rectory stands on the other side 
of the narrow road, raised above it, and sheltered by a 
warm backing of trees in which evergreens are con- 
spicuous. A very substantial-looking building it is, much 
superior to what was considered good enough for a 
clergyman in the eighteenth century. The country 
is well wooded, and the roads undulating, so that there 


are no distant views. Probably a good deal of the plant- 
ing has been done since Jane Austen's time, but that 
there were trees then we know from her own account, and 
some of the fine oaks that still stand can have altered 
but little since then, Mr. Austen-Leigh's account of 
the house in which she was bom is worth quoting — 

'' North of the house, the road from Deane to 
Popham Lane ran at a sufficient distance from the 
front to allow a carriage drive through turf and trees. 
On the south side, the ground rose gently, and was 
occupied by one of those old-fashioned gardens in which 
vegetables and flowers are combined, flanked and pro- 
tected on the east by one of the thatched mud walls 
common in that country, and overshadowed by fine 
elms. Along the upper or southern side of this garden 
ran a terrace of the finest turf, which must have been 
in the writer's thoughts when she described Catherine 
Morland's childish delight in 'rolling down the green 
slope at the back of the house. ' " 

Though there is so little left to see, and the church 
has been " restored," yet it is worth while to pass through 
this country to realise the environment in which the 
authoress spent her childhood. There are still left in 
the neighbourhood, notably at North Waltham, some 
of the old diamond-paned, heavily - timbered brick 
houses with thatched roofs, to which she must have 
been accustomed. The gentle curves of the roads, the 
oak and beech and fir overshadowing the sweet lanes, 
the wild clematis, which grows so abundantly that in 
autumn it looks like hoar-frost covering^ all the hedge- 
rows, these things were prominent objects in the scenery 
amid which she lived. It is not likely she looked on 
her surroundings in the same way as any ordinarily 
educated person would now look on them. Love of 
scenery had not then been developed. The artificial and 


formal landscape gardening, with " made " waterfalb, was 
the correct thing to admire. Genuine nature, much less 
homely nature, was only then beginning to be observed. 
This is strange to us, for, as Professor Geikie says, ** At 
no time in our history as a nation has the scenery of 
the land we live in been so intelligently appreciated as 
it is to-day." 

But Jane was not in advance of her times, and 
though she loved her trees and flowers, we find in her 
writings no reflections of the scenes amid which she 
daily walked; in her books scenery is simply ignored. 
We know if it rained, because that material fact had 
an influence on the actions of her heroines, but beyond 
that there is little or nothing ; yet she greatly admired 
Cowper, one of the earliest of the " natural " poets. 

Mr. Austen-Leigh, her own nephew, speaks of the 
scenery around her first home as " tame," and says that 
it has no ** grand or extensive views," though he admits 
it has its beauties, and says that Steventon "from 
the fall of the ground, and the abundance of its 
timber, is certainly one of the prettiest spots." But this 
quiet prettiness, without the excessive richness to be 
found in other south-country villages, is perhaps more 
thoroughly characteristic of England than any other. 

The impressions of childhood are invariably deep, 
and are cut with a clearness and minuteness to which 
none others of later times attain. Just as a child 
examines a picture in a story-book with anxious and 
searching care, while an adult gains only a general 
impression of- the whole, so a child knows the place 
where it has played in such detail that every bough 
of the trees, every root of the lilacs, every tiny depression 
or ditch is familiar. And thus Jane must have known 
the home at Steventon. 

Writing about a storm in 1 800, she says : '* I was 


just in time to see the last of our two hi^y valued 
elms descend into the Sweep 1 1 1 The other, which had 
fallen, I suppose, in the first crash, and which was the 
nearest to the pond, taking a more easterly direction, 
sunk amid our screen of chestnuts and firs, knocking 
down one spruce fir, beating off the head of another, and 
stripping the two comer chestnuts of several branches 
in its fall. This is not all. One large elm out of the 
two on the left-hand side as you enter, what I call, the 
elm walk, was likewise blown down ; the maple bearing 
the weathercock was broke in two, and what I regret 
more than all the rest b that all the three elms which 
grew in Hall's meadow, and gave such ornament to it, 
are gone." 

This bespeaks her intimate acquaintance with the 
trees, of which each one was a firiend. 

The country and the writer suited each other so 
wonderfully, that one pauses for a moment wondering 
whether, after all, environment may not have that magic 
influence claimed for it by some who hold it to be 
more powerful than inherited qualities. Influence of 
course it has, and one wonders what could possibly have 
been the result if two such natures as those of Jane 
Austen and Charlotte Bronte had changed places; if 
Jane had been brought up amid the wild, bleak York- 
shire moors, and Charlotte amid the pleasant fields of 
Hampshire. As it is, the surroundings of each intensi- 
fied and developed their own peculiar genius. 

Jane was bom of the middle class, her father, Gporge 
Austen, being a clergyman in a day when clergymen were 
none too well thought of, yet taking a better position 
than most by reason of his own family and good connec- 
tions. George Austen had early been left an orphan, and 
had been adopted by an uncle. He showed the posses- 
sion of brains by obtaining first a scholarship at St. 


John's Collie, Oxford^ and subsequently a fellow- 

He took Orders which, in the dajrs when rectories 
were looked upon simply as " livings/' was a recognised 
mode of providing for a young man, whether he had 
any vocation for the ministry or not But he seems 
to have fulfilled his duties, or what were then considered 
sufficient duties, creditably enough. Of George Austen 
one of his sons wrote — 

^ He resided in the conscientious and unassisted 
discharge of his ministerial duties until he was turned 
of seventy years." He was a " profound scholar " and 
had ** exquisite taste in every species of literature." 

The subject of the clergy at that date, and the 
examples of them which Jane has herself given us in 
her books, is an interesting one, and we shall return to 
it The rectory of Steventon was presented to George 
Austen by Mr. Knight, the same cousin who afterwards 
adopted his son Edward ; and the rectory of Deane, a 
small place about a mile distant, was bought by an uncle 
who bad educated him, and given to him. The villages 
were very small, only containing about three hundred 
persons altogether. In those days parish visiting or 
parochial clubs and entertainments were unthought of, 
Sunday schools in their earliest infancy, and we hear 
nothing whatever throughout the whole of Jane Austen's 
correspondence which leads us to think that she, in any 
way, carried out the duties which in these days fall to 
the lot of every clergyman's daughter. This is not to 
cast blame upon her, it only means that she was the 
child of her times; these things had not then been 

George Austen married Cassandra, youngest daughter 
of the Rev. Thomas Leigh, who was of good family, 
her uncle was Dr. Theophilus Leigh, Master of Balliol 



ColI^;e, a witty and well-known man. These things 
are not of importance in themselves, but they serve 
to show that the family from which Jane sprang was 
on both sides of some consideration. The Austens 
lived first at Deane, but moved to Steventon in 1771. 
They had undertaken the charge of a son of Warren 
Hastings, who died young, and they had a large family 
of their own, as was consistent in days when families 
of ten, eleven, and even fifteen were no uncommon thing. 

There were five sons and two daughters in all, and 
Jane was the youngest but one. (See Table, p. 326.) 
James, the eldest, was probably too far removed in age 
from his younger sister ever to have been very intimate 
with her. It is said that he had some share in her 
reading and in forming her taste, but though she was 
very fond of him she never seems, as was very natural, to 
have had quite the same degree of intimate affection for 
him as she felt for those of her brothers nearer to her 
own age. James was twice married, and his only daughter 
by his first wife was Anna, of whom Jane makes frequent 
mention in her letters, and to whom some of the pub- 
lished correspondence was addressed. His second wife 
was Mary Lloyd, whose sister Martha was the very 
devoted firiend, and frequent guest, of the girl Austens, 
and who late in life married Francis, one of Jane's 
younger brothers. The son of James and Mary was 
James Edward, who took the additional name of Leigh, 
and was the writer of the Memoir which supplies one of 
the only two sources of authoritative information about 
Jane Austen. He died in 1 874. 

The next brother, Edward, as already stated, was 
adopted by his cousin Mr. Knight, whose name he took. 
He came into the fine properties of Chawton House in 
Hampshire and Godmersham in Kent, even during the 
lifetime of Mr. Knight's widow, who looked on him ' 


a son and retired in his favour. Edward married 
Elizabeth Bridges, and had a family of eleven children, 
of whom the eldest, Fanny Catherine, married Sir 
Edward Knatchbull, and their eldest son was created 
Lord Braboume ; to him we owe the Letters which are 
the second of the authoritative books on Jane Austen. 

Jane Austen was attached to her niece Fanny 
Knight in a degree only second to that of her attach- 
ment to her own sister Cassandra. Fanny's mother, 
Mrs. Edward Austen or Knight (for the change of name 
seems not to have taken place until her death), died 
comparatively young, and the great responsibility thrown 
upon Fanny doubtless made her seem older, and more 
companionable, than her years ; of her, her famous aunt 
writes — 

'* I found her in the summer just what you describe, 
almost another sister, and could not have supposed that 
a niece would ever have been so much to me. She is 
quite after one's own heart Give her my best love and 
tell her that I always think of her with pleasure." 

The third Austen brother, Henry, interested himself 
much in his sister's writing, and saw about the business 
arrangements for her, when, after many years, she 
decided to publish one of her own books at her own 
risk. He was something of a rolling stone, filling 
various positions in turn, and at length taking Orders 
and succeeding his brother James in the Steventon 
living. During part of his life he lived in London, 
where Jane often stayed with him. He married first his 
cousin Eliza, the daughter of George Austen's sister ; she 
was the widow of a Frenchman, the Count de Feuillade, 
who had suffered death by the guillotine. Eliza was 
very popular with her girl cousins, as we can see from 
Jane's remarks ; she died in 1813, and in 1820 Henry 
married Eleanor, daughter of Henry Jackson. The two 


youngest brotherSy Francis and Charles, came above and 
below Jane, with aboot three years* interval on either 
side. They both entered the navy, and both became 

Frank rose to be Senior Admiral of the Fleet, and 
was created G.CB. ; he lived to be ninety-twa He, like 
another of his brothers, was twice married, — a haUt that 
ran abnormally in the family, — and his second wife was 
Martha, the sister of his brother James's wife, mentioned 
above. Charles married first Fanny Palmer, and was 
left a widower in 1815 with three small dau^^ters. 
He married second^ her sister Harriet The two 
Fannies, Mrs. Charles Austen and the eldest daughter 
of Edward Knight, sometimes cause a little confusion. 
Jane Austen mentions calling with the younger Fanny 
on the motherless children of her brother, one of whom 
was also Fanny, soon after their loss. ''We got to 
Keppel Street, however, which was all I cared for, and 
though we could only stay a quarter of an hour, Fanny's 
calling gave great pleasure, and her sensibility still 
greater ; for she was very much affected at the sight of 
the children. Little Fanny looked heavy. We saw the 
whole party." 

It has been necessary to give a few details respecting 
the brothers who played so large a part in Jane's life, 
because her visits away from home were nearly all to 
their houses, her letters are full of allusions to them, and 
the great family affection which subsisted between them 
all made the griefs and joys of the others the greatest 
events in a very uneventful life. The dearest, however, 
of the whole family was the one sister Cassandra, who, 
like Jane herself, never married, which seems the 
stranger when we consider how many of the brothers 
married twice. There was a sad little love-story in 
Cassandra's life. She was engaged to a young clergy- 


man who had promise of promotion from a nobleman 
related to him. He accompanied this patron to the 
West Indies as chaplain to the regiment, and there died 
of yellow fever. There is perhaps something more 
pathetic in such a tale than in any other, the glowing 
ideal has not been smirched by any touch of the actual 
sordid daily life, it is snatched away and remains an 
ideal always, and the happiness that might have been is 
enhanced by romance so as to be a greater depriva- 
tion than any loss of the actual. 

The two sisters were sisters in reality, sharing the 
same views, the same friendships, the same interests. 
When away, Jane's letters to Cassandra are full and 
lively, telling of all the numberless little events that 
only a sister can enjoy. And if Jane's own estimate is 
to be believed, Cassandra's are to the full as vivacious. 

" The letter which I have this moment received from 
you has diverted me beyond moderation. I could die of 
laughter at it, as they used to say at school. You are 
indeed the finest comic writer of the present age." 

Cassandra lived to 1845, ^ong enough to see that 
her beloved sister's letters would in all probability be 
published ; she was of a reticent nature, with a strong 
dislike to revealing anything personal or intimate to the 
public, she therefore went through all these neatly 
written letters from Jane, which she had so carefully 
preserved, and destroyed anything of a personal nature. 
One cannot altogether condemn the action, greatly as 
we have been the losers ; the letters that remain, many 
in number, deal almost entirely with outside matters, 
trivialities of everyday life, and they are written so 
brightly that we can judge how interesting the bits of 
self -revelation by so expressive a pen would have 

In 1869, when Mr. Austen-Leigh published his 


Memoir^ only one or two of Jane Austen's letters were 
available; but in 1802, on the death of Lady Knatchbull 
[nie Fanny Knight), the letters above l e f eiied to, which 
Cassandra Austen had retained, were found among her 
belongings, having come to her on her aunt's death. 
Her son, created Lord Braboume, therefore published 
these in two volumes in 1884, and<Arhen quotations and 
extracts are given in this book without further explana- 
tion, it must be inferred that these are taken from letters 
of Jane to Cassandra, as given by Lord Braboume. 


OF Jane Austen's childhood in the quiet countiy 
rectory we know little, probably because there is 
not a great deal to know. It was the custom in those 
days to put babies out to nurse in the village, sometimes 
until they were as much as two years old, a point often 
overlooked when the mothers of what is now extolled as 
a domestic period are held up as patterns to a more 
intellectual and roving generation. Certainly it was an 
easy and cheap method of getting rid of the care and 
trouble involved by a baby in the house, and it probably 
answered well, as the child would learn to do without 
too much attention, and at an early age, faddists not- 
withstanding, could hardly suffer from any influ^ioe of 
its surroundings, other than physically, and it may be 
taken for granted that the material necessities were well 
provided and kept under supervision. Nevertheless, a 
mother who adopted this course at the present day 
could hardly escape the epithet of '* heartless," which 
would assuredly be levelled at her. 

In the time of Jane's childhood the old days of rigid 
severity toward children were past, no longer were mere 
babies taken to see executions and whipped on their 
return to enforce the example they had beheld. In fact 
a period of undue indulgence had set in as a reaction, 
but this does not seem to have affected the Austen 


^ ^vn.'t^f.t 

.'fj*! •» 

K C 


^r.'.r Anc 


.ni II Ml 


laicf tter rUn^r ^\'iV5<x 

tssdmonr she mts^ Thr I7k>4 tvv^>iAi «vs^ 
of sBBts, the &ct Tcsniisns; tKj^x ^h^ >m^, vw^ 
krto cinld Bsmm, nnr dor^t 8h^ M^^m ^^ Kf^x^ 
had any gcnenl Icn^ of children b<^vmd thoo^r >i^*Kn ^^^^h^ 
^ledally oonnrcted midi ber b^^ ck«M ti(^ SW KNxvtt 
her nieoesi but mncii mcxe as d^y (i^w o4\)<^- t^^\ i^m 

Mr. Austen-Le^ says: ** Aunt Jam waa th^ ^^i^U^hl 
of all her nephews and nieces* We dUI niM Xhiwk \\\ \\^' 
as being clever, still less as being famo\i« ; h\\\ \\p vaImv^I 
her as one alwajrs kind, sympathisinifi Aiu) Am\liiln(tt^^ ^^^^^ 
he quotes ''the testimony of anotht^r \\\p\p ^ A\\\\\ 
Jane was the general favourite with t^hlUlhUH) \\py whv^ 
with them being so playful, and hor Umg t'liiUftiitlMiHIiii 
stories so delightful/" And agftlrt, " lir!r fl^M iImhh (h 
children was great sweetneii of m«ntti9r i i i ii\m Hiuh\ 
make evetything amusing to a ehltil/' 

The truth probably if that fmr \nmi^ Mnthmn tit 


heart and unselfishness compelled her to be as amusing 
as possible when thrown with little people, but perhaps 
because she took so much trouble to entertain them she 
found children more tiresome than other people who 
accept their company more placidly. However this may 
be, it is undeniable that the attitude she takes toward 
children in her books is almost always that of their 
being tiresome, there never appears any genuine love 
for them or realisation of pleasure in their society ; and 
she continually satirises the foolish weakness of their 
doting parents. It is recorded as a great feature in the 
character of Mrs. John Knightley " that in spite of her 
maternal solicitude for the immediate enjoyment of her 
little ones, and for their having instantly all the liberty 
and attendance, all the eating and drinking, and sleeping 
and playing, which they could possibly wish for, without 
the smallest delay, the children were never allowed to be 
long a disturbance to him [their grandfather] either in 
themselves or in any restless attendance on them." 

Poor Anne in Persuasion is tormented by "the 
younger boy, a remarkably stout forward <:hild of two 
years old, ... as his aunt would not let him tease his 
sick brother, [he] beg^an to fasten himself upon her, in 
such a way, that busy as she was about Charles, she 
could not shake him off. She spoke to him, ordered, 
entreated, insisted in vain. Once she did contrive to 
push him away, but the boy had the greater pleasure in 
getting upon her back again directly." 

Perhaps to Anne this annoyance was a blessing in 
disguise, as it brought forward the whilom lover to her 
assistance, but that is beside the point ! 

The children of Lady Middleton in Sense and 
Sensibility are particularly badly behaved and odious. 

" Fortunately for those who pay their court through 
such foibles, a fond mother, though in pursuit of praise for 


her children the most rapacious of human beings, is 
likewise the most credulous ; her demands are exorbitant, 
but she will swallow anything, and the excessive affection 
and endurance of the Miss Steeles towards her offspring 
were reviewed therefore by Lady Middleton without the 
smallest surprise or distrust She saw with maternal 
complacency all the impertinent encroachments and 
mischievous tricks to which her cousins submitted. She 
saw their sashes untied, their hair pulled about their 
ears, their workbags searched and their knives and 
scissors stolen away, and felt no doubt of its being a 
reciprocal enjoyment. 

'' * John is in such spirits to-day ! ' said she, on his 
taking Miss Steele's pocket-handkerchief and throwing 
it out of the window, * he is full of monkey-tricks.* 

'' And soon afterwards on the second boy's violently 
pinching one of the same lady's fingers, she fondly 
observed, * How playful William is ! ' 

*^ ' And here is my sweet little Anna- Maria,' she 
added, tenderly caressing a little girl of three years old, 
who had not made a noise for the last two minutes; 
' and she is always so gentle and quiet, never was there 
such a quiet little thing 1 ' 

** But unfortunately in bestowing these embraces a 
pin in her ladyship's head-dress slightly scratching the 
child's neck produced from this pattern of gentleness 
such violent screams as could hardly be outdone by any 
creature professedly noisy . . . her mouth stuffed with 
sugar-plums . . . she still screamed and sobbed lustily, 
and kicked her two brothers for offering to touch her. 
• ••••• 

" * I have a notion,' said Lucy [to Elinor] * you think 
the little Middletons are too much indulged. Perhaps 
they may be the outside of enough, but it is so natural 
in Lady Middleton, and for my part I love to see 


children full of life and spirits; I cannot bear them if 
they are tame and quiet' 

'< * I confess/ replied Elinor, * that while I am at 
Barton Park I never think of tame and quiet children 
with any abhorrence ! * " 

Those children in the novels who are not detestable 
are usually lay- figures, such as Henry and John 
Knightley, rosy-faced little boys not distinguished by 
any individuality. Others are merely pegs on which to 
hang their parents' follies, such as little Harry Dashwood, 
who serves his parents as an excuse for their unutterable 
meanness. The fact remains there are only two passable 
children in the whole gallery, and one is the slightest of 
slight sketches in that little-known and half-finished 
story TAe Watsons, Here the little boy, Charles, spoken 
of as '' Mrs. Blake's little boy," is a real flesh-and-blood 
child, who at his first ball when thrown over remorse- 
lessly by his grown-up partner, though " the picture of 
disappointment, with crimsoned cheeks, quivering lips, 
and eyes bent on the floor," yet contrives to utter 
bravely, " * Oh, I do not mind it ! ' " and whose naive 
enjoyment at dancing with Emma Watson, who offers 
herself as a substitute, is well done. His conversation 
with her is also very natural, and his cry, *' ' Oh, uncle, do 
look at my partner ; she is so pretty ! ' " is a human touch. 

The other instance is a sample of a very nervous, 
shy child, perhaps drawn from the recollections of Jane 
Austen's own feelings in childhood, this is Fanny Price, 
whose loneliness on her first coming to Mansfield Park is 
carefully depicted, but Fanny herself is unchildlike and 
exceptional. Her younger brothers rank among the 
gallery of bad children, for by "the superior noise of 
Sam, Tom, and Charles chasing each other up and down 
stairs, and tumbling about and hallooing, Fanny was 
almost stunned. Sam, loud and overbearing as he 

J'.T.-EN-ILE RF.~'.?-r\fr.- 


was, . • • was clever and intelligent • . . Tom and 
Charles being at least as many years as they were his 
juniors distant from that age of feeling and reason which 
might suggest the expediency of making friends, and of 
endeavouring to be less disagreeable. Their sister soon 
despaired of making any impression on them ; they were 
quite untamable by any means of address which she 
had spirits or time to attempt • . . Betsy, too, a spoilt 
child, trained up to think the alphabet her greatest 
enemy, left to be with servants at her pleasure, and then 
encouraged to report any evil of them."* 

But Jane Austen's abundant pictures of over-indulged, 
badly-behaved children are not the only ones to be found 
in contemporary fiction ; in Hannah More's Ccdebs in 
Search of a Wife the children come in for dessert, ^ a 
dozen children, lovely, fresh, gay, and noisy • • . the 
grand dispute, who should have oranges, and who should 
have almonds and raisins, soon raised such a clamour 
that it was impossible to hear my Egyptian friend . . • 
the son and heir reaching out his arm to dart an apple 
across the table at his sister, roguishly intending to 
overset her glass, unluckily overthrew his own brimful of 
port wine/' And of another and better behaved family 
it is observed as a splendid innovation that the children 
are not allowed to come into dessert, to clamour and 
make themselves nuisances, but are limited to appearing 
in the drawing-room later. 

One of the characters in Ccdebs is made to observe, 
** This is the age of excess in ever)rthing ; nothing is a 
gratification of which the want has not been previously 
felt The wishes of children are all so anticipated, that 
they never experience the pleasure excited by wanting 
and waiting." He speaks also of the ''too great pro- 
fusion and plethora of children's books," which is certainly 
not a thing we are used to attribute to that age. 


Several of the children's books of that date are kept 
alive to the present day by a salt of insight into child 
nature, and are published and re-published perennially. 
Many a child still knows and loves The Story of the 
Robins f by Mrs. Trimmer, first brought out in 1786; 
and as for Sandford and Merton^ by Thomas Day, which 
was at first in three volumes, published respectively in 
1783, 1787, and 1789, many a boy has revelled in it, 
not perhaps entirely from the point of view in which it 
was written, but with a keen sense of the ridiculous in 
the behaviour of the little prig Harry. Mrs Barbauld's 
(and her brother's) Evenings at Home still delights many 
children; and Miss Edgeworth's Parents Assistant^ of 
which the first volume appeared in 1 796, is a perennial 
source of amusement in nurseries and schoolrooms. The 
FairckUd Family suffers from an excess of religiosity, 
and a terrible belief in the innate wickedness of a little 
child's heart, which is not now tolerated. When Emily 
and Lucy indulge in a childish quarrel, they are taken to 
see what remains of a murderer who has hung on a 
gibbet until his clothes are rotting from him, and the 
warning is enforced by a long sermon ; but in spite of 
much that would not be suitable according to present 
ideas for a child to hear. The FairchUd Family, the first 
part of which came out a year subsequently to the death 
of Jane Austen, contains much that is very human in 
behaviour and action. Though later in date than the 
others mentioned as surviving, it really is quite as early 
in treatment, as it is a record of what Mrs. Sherwood, 
born in the same year as Jane Austen, remembered of 
her own childhood. 

The book contains many examples of the spoilt-child 
phase, in contrast with which the strict upbringing of the 
young Fairchilds is shown as the better way. What 
Mrs. Sherwood puts into the mouth of Mrs. Fairchild 


about her chfldhood is probably antobiographiral, and 
may be quoted as an instanoe of the stetu c i modes which 
were then rapidly passing out of i^ogne. 

" I was but a very little girl when I came to live 
with my aunts, and they kept me under their care ontil 
I was married. As far as they knew what was right, they 
took great pains with me: Mrs. Grace tanght me to 
sew, and Mrs. Penelope taught me to read; I had a 
writing and music master, who came firom Reading to 
teach me twice a week ; and I was taught all Idnds of 
household work by my aunts' maid. We spent one day 
exactly like another. I was made to rise early, and to 
dress myself very neatly, to breakfast with my aunts. 
After breakfast I worked two hours with my aunt Grace, 
and read an hour with my aunt Penelope ; we then, if 
it was fine weather, took a walk ; or, if not, an airing in 
the coach, I and my aunts, and little Shock, the lap-dog, 
together. At dinner I was not allowed to speak ; and 
after dinner I attended my masters or learned my tasks. 
The only time I had to play was while my aunts were 
dressing to go out, for they went out every evening to 
play at cards. When they went out my supper was 
given to me, and I was put to bed in a closet in my 
aunts' room." 

A modem child under such treatment would probably 
develop an acute form of melancholia. 

The home education of the time, for girls at least, 
was very superficial. We gather something of what was 
supposed to be taught from the remarks of the Bertram 
girls in Mansfield Park when they plume themselves on 
their superiority to Fanny — 

' ^ ' Dear mamma, only think, my cousin cannot put 
die ou^ of Europe together— or my cousin cannot tell 
the principal rivers in Russia, or she never heard of Asia 
Minor, or she does not know the differences between 


water colours and crayons 1 How strange I Did you 
ever hear anything so stupid ? ' 

" * My dear/ their considerate aunt would reply, ' it is 
very bad, but you must not expect everybody to be as 
forward and quick at learning as yourself.' 

" * But, aunt, she is really so very ignorant. Do you 
know we asked her last night . which way she would go 
to get to Ireland, and she said she should cross to the 
Isle of Wight I cannot remember the time when I did 
not know a great deal that she has not the least notion 
of yet How long ago is it, aunt, since we used to 
repeat the chronological order of the kings of England, 
with the dates of their accession, and most of the 
principal events of their reigns?' 

"'Yes,' added the other, 'and of the Roman 
Emperors as low as Severus, besides a great deal of the 
heathen mythdogy, and all the metals, semi-metals, 
planets, and distinguished philosophers.' " 

The rattle-pate, Miss Amelia, in Ccdebs thus gives 
an account of her education : " I have gone on with my 
French and Italian of course, and I am beginning 
German. Then comes my drawing-master; he teaches 
me to paint flowers and shells, and to draw ruins and 
buildings, and to take views. ... I learn varnishing, 
gilding, and Japanning. And next winter, I shall learn 
modelling and etching and engraving in mezzotint and 
aquatinta. Then I have a dancing-master who teaches 
me the Scotch and Irish steps, and another who teaches 
me attitudes, and I shall soon learn to waltz. Then I 
have a singing-master, and another who teaches me the 
harp, and another for the pianoforte. And what little 
time I can spare from these principal things, I give by odd 
minutes to ancient and modem history, and geography 
and astronomy, and grammar and botany, and I attend 
lectures on chemistry, and experimental chemistry." 


Jane's early childhood was probably a very happy 
one; what with the companionship of Cassandra, with 
the liveliness and constant comings and goings of the 
brothers who were educated at home by Mr. Austen 
himself, with all the romps of a large family having 
unlimited country as a playground, it can hardly have 
failed to be so. While she was still too young to profit 
much by school teaching on her own account, she was 
sent to a school at Reading kept by a Mrs. Latoumelle, 
because Cassandra was going, and the two sbters could 
not bear to be parted. How long she was at this school 
I do not know, but the subjects taught were probably 
those scheduled in the comprehensive summary of 
smatterings given by the two Miss Bertrams. This 
school was a notable one, and among the later pupils 
was Mrs. Sherwood, who followed Jane after an interval 
of nine years. She probably went to school as late as 
Jane went early, which would account for the gap in 
time between two who should have been contemporary. 

Miss Mitford was also a pupil; she went in 1798 
when the school had been removed to Hans Place, 
London. She gives a lively account of it. It was kept 
by M. St. Quintin, ''a well-bom, well-educated, and 
well-looking French emigrant," who **was assisted, or 
rather chaperoned, in his undertaking by his wife, a good- 
natured, red-faced Frenchwoman, much mufRed up in 
shawls and laces ; and by Miss Rowden, an accomplished 
young lady, the daughter and sister of clergymen, who 
had been for some years governess in the family of Lord 
Bessborough. M. St Quintin himself taught the pupils 
French, history, geography, and as much science as he 
was master of, or as he thought it requisite for a young 
lady to know ; Miss Rowden, with the assistance of 
finishing masters for Italian, music, dancing, and draw- 
ing, superintended the general course of study; while 


Madame St. Quintin sat dozing, either in the drawing- 
room, with a piece of work, or in the library with a book 
in her hand, to receive the friends of the young ladies or 
any other visitors who might chance to call" 

Miss Mitford says further that the school was 
" excellent," that the pupils were " healthy, happy, well- 
fed, and kindly treated," and that "the intelligent 
manner in which instruction was given had the effect of 
producing in the majority of the pupils a love of reading 
and a taste for literature." 

Of course Jane, being such a child when she went, 
can hardly have taken full use of the opportunities which 
were afforded her, but perhaps she laid at school the 
foundations of that cleverness in neat sewing and 
embroidery which is manifested in the specimens still in 
the possession of her relatives. 

There is a portrait of Jane painted when she was 
about fifteen. It shows a bright child with shining eyes 
and one loose lock of hair falling over her forehead; 
not particularly pretty, but intelligent and with character. 
She is standing, and is dressed in the simple white gown, 
high waist, short sleeves, and low neck which little girls 
wore as well as their elders, and round her neck is a 
large locket slung on a slender chain. Her portrait was 
painted by Zoffany when she was about fifteen, on her 
first visit to Bath, but whether this reproduction, which 
appears in the beginning of Lord Braboume's Letters of 
Jane Austen^ is from that picture I have not been able to 

Mr. Austen-Leigh says of her — 

" In childhood every available opportunity of instruc- 
tion was made use of. According to the ideas of the 
time she was well-educated, though not highly accom- 
plished, and she certainly enjoyed that important element 
of mental training, associating at home with persons of 


cultivated intellect" He says in another place, ''Jane 
herself was fond of mu«c, and had a sweet voice, both 
in singing and conversation; in her youth she had 
received some instruction on the pianoforte . . . she 
read French with facility, and knew something of 

In French she had at one time a great advantage 
in the continual association with Madame de Feuillade, 
her cousin, and afterwards her sister-in-law, who, as 
already mentioned, had been married to a Frenchman. 

The illustration on p. 26 is a portrait group of the 
children of the Hon. John Douglas of the Morton family. 
It was painted by Hoppner, who lived 1 7 58-1 8 10; and, 
in the costumes of the little boy and elder girl especially, 
gives a good notion of the dress of the better-class 
children of the period. 


JANE AUSTEN was a clergyman's daughter. At 
the present time there are undoubtedly wide differ- 
ences in the social standing of the clergy according 
to their own birth and breeding, but yet it may be taken 
for granted that a cle rgyman is considered a fit guest 
for any man's table. It was not always so. There was 
a time when a clergyman was a kind of servant, ranking 
with the butler, whose hospitality he enjoyed ; we have 
plenty of pictures of this state of affairs in The Vicar 
of Wakefield^ to go no further. But before Jane was 
born, matters had changed. The pendulum had not yet 
swung to the opposite extreme of our own day, when the 
fact of a man's being ordained is supposed to give him 
new birth in a social sense, and a tailor's son passes 
througlujhe meagrest of the Universities in order that 
he may thus be transformed into a gentleman without 
ever considering whether he has the smallest vocation 
for the ministry. ,f n the Austens' time the status of a 
clergyman depended a very great deal on himself, and 
as the patronage of the Church was chiefly in the hands 
of the well-to-do lay-patrons, who bestowed the livings 
on their younger sons or brothers, there was very 
frequently a tie of relationship between the vicarage and 
the great house, which was sufficient to ensure the vicar's 
positioa In the case of relationship the system was 


THE roBtnas of the custer 

probably at its best, □bractn^ wny iniliiiniinAl tr amvi litr : 
but tbcuenas a -vcxjcril side tDwbal mavbc ralirr local 
patronage^ 'vbidi vas more is gnrlniig tizai; it 
is in our timcL An^dnsdiop Gn itn, in bs LUai^jB) to 
the ciergy of Ibe rfinnr^y of Oxford, vbeo be vas ^ten- 
Bishop in 1737, throws a vay cIbbt li^ixt on this side 
of tlie qocstKixL He expressly ecjaans incumbents to 
make no promise to their patrons to qnh the benefice 
when dcsiicd befiaie entering lulu < ifTii t ^ The tme 
meaning IheitJbrc is to comnionl3T eislave the tncnmtieiJt 
to tlie will and plcasore of the patron." The monve for 
demanding sodi a promise was generally that the living 
might be held nntH soch time as some raw yoong lad, 
a nephew or younger soo of the lord of the manor, was 
ready to take iL The evils of sodi a system are but 
too apparent. We can imagine a nervous clerg3rman who 
would never daie to e xp t e s s an opinion contraiy to die 
will of the beneEabctor who had the power to turn him 
out into die world penniless ; we can imagine the time* 
server courting his patron with honied words. This 
debased type b inimitably sketched in the diaracter 
of Mr. Collins in Pride and Premdice. ^ ' It shall be 

my earnest endeavour to demean myself with grateful 
respect . towards her ladyship, and be very ready to 
perform those rites and ceremonies whidi are instituted 
by the Church of England.' Lady Catherine [he said] 
had been graciously pleased to approve of both the 
discourses which he had already had the honour of 
preaching. She had also asked him twice to dine at 
Rosings, and had sent for him only the Saturday before, 
to make up her pool of quadrille in the evening. Lady 
Catherine was reckoned proud, he knew, by many 
people, but he had never seen anything but affability 
in her. She had always spoken to him as she would 
to any other gentleman; she made not the smallest 



objection to his joining in the society of the neighbour- 

In his delightful exordium to Elizabeth as to his 
reasons for proposing to her, he says — 

" * My reasons for marrying are, first, that I think 
it a right thing for every clergyman in easy circumstances 
(like myself) to set the example of matrimony in his 
parish ; secondly, that I am confrinced it will add very 
greatly to my happiness; and^ thirdly, which perhaps 
I ought to have mentioned earlier^hat it is the particular 
advice and recommendation of the very noble lady whom 
I have the honour of calling patroness. Twice has she 
condescended to give me her opinion (unasked too !) on 
this subject; and it was but the very Saturday night 
before I left Hunsford — between our pools at quadrille 
while Mrs. Jenkinson was arranging Miss de Bourgh's 
footstool — that she said, ' Mr. Collins, you must marry. 
A clergyman like you must marry. Choose praperly, 
choose a gentlewoman for my sake, and for your own ; 
let her be an active useful sort of person, not brought up 
high, but able to make a small income go a good way.''' 

And when, after his marriage with her friend, 
Elizabeth goes to stay witii them, and is invited to dine 
with them at the Rosings, Lady Catherine's place, he 
thus encourages her — 

" * Do not make yourself uneasy, my dear cousin, 
about your apparel. Lady Catherine is far from requir- 
ing that elegance of dress in us which becomes herself 
and daughter. I would advise you merely to put on 
whatever of your clothes is superior to the rest, there 
is no occasion for anything more. Lady Catherine will 
not think the worse of you for being simply dressed. 
She likes to have the distinction of rank preserved.'" 

In the case of Mr. Collins, the patron happened to 
be a lady, but the instances were numberless in which 


Artfanr Yom^ sajs of 
<«Oiie did not kad 
huntcfSy wbo^ lu%if^ 
after hounds, dnl u ^Ir the 
reel firom indxiely to the 
infer that many Englisli 

Cowpei's satire oo tlie 
secured is worth qnoliiig in 



Not to be ftiQiiii b^ puiiin^ OB ft twoir 

Small ddU in Latin, and still Ics in Greek, 

Is moic tban wdttpade to all I seek. 

Let erudition gnoe liini or not pace, 

I give the banble bat the seoond place ; 

His wealtb, fiune, honoors, all that I intend 

Subsist and centre in one point— n finend. 

A friend wfaatci'er he studies or neglects. 

Shall giTe him consequence, heal all defects^ 

His intercooise with peers and sons of peers — 

There dawns the sptendoor of his future years ; 

In that bright quarter his propitious skies 

Shall blush betimes, and there his glory rise. 

'Your lordship' and 'Your Grace,' what school can teach 

A rhetoric equal to those parts of speech? 

What need of Homer's verse or Tully's prose, 

Sweet interjections ! if he learn but those ? 

Let reverend churls his ignorance rebuke, 

Who starve upon a dog-eared pentateuch, 

The parson knows enough who knows a duke." 

At the end of the eighteenth century the Church was 
at its deadest, enthusiasm there was none. Torpid is 
the only word that fitly describes the spiritual condition 
of the majority of the clergy. Seeker says, "An open 
and professed disregard of religion is become, through a 
variety of unhappy causes, the distinguishing character 


of the present age " ; and the clergy, as the salt of the 
earth, had certainly lost their savour, and did little or 
nothing to resist an apathy which, too commonly, 
extended to themselves. 

The duties of clergymen were therefore almost as light 
as they chose to make them. One service on Sunday, and 
the Holy Communion three times yearly, at Christmas, 
Easter, and Whitsuntide, was considered enough. 

"A sacrament might easily be interposed in the 
long interval between Christmas and Whitsuntide, and 
the usual season for it, the Feast of St. Michael, is a very 
proper time, and if afterwards you can advance from a 
quarterly communion to a monthly one, I make no 
doubt you will." (Seeker.) 

Baptisms, marriages, and funerals were looked on as 
nuisances; the clergyman ran them together as much 
as possible, and often arrived at the last minute, flinging 
himself off his smoking horse to gabble through the 
service with the greatest possible speed ; children were 
frequently buried without any service at all. 

The churches were for the most part damp and 
mouldy ; there were, of course, none of the present con- 
veniences for heating and lighting. Heavy galleries 
cut off the little light that struggled through the 
cobwebby windows. There were mouse-eaten hassocks, 
curtains on rods thick with dust, a general smell of 
mouldiness and disuse, and a cold, but ill-ventilated, 

In some old country churches there still survive the 
family pews, which were like small rooms, and in which 
the occupants could read or sleep without being seen 
by anyone; in one or two cases there are fire-grates 
in these ; and in one strange example at Langley, in 
Bucks, the pew is not only roofed in, but it has a 
lattice in front, with painted panels which can be 


opened and shut at the occupants' pleasure, and there 
is a room in connection with it in which is a library 
of books, so that it would be quite possible for anyone 
to retire for a little interlude without the rest of the 
congregation's being aware of it! 

The church, only opened as a rule once a week, 
was left for the rest of the time to the bats and birds. 
Compare this with one of the neat, warm, clean churches 
to be found almost everywhere at present; churches 
with polished wood pews, shining brass fittings, tessellated 
floor in place of uneven bricks, a communion table 
covered by a cloth worked by the vicar's wife, and 
bearing white flowers placed by loving hands. A 
pulpit of carved oak, alabaster, or marble, instead of a 
dilapidated old three-decker in which the parish clerk 
sat below and gave out the tunes in a droning voice. 

Organs were of course very uncommon at the end 
of the eighteenth century in country parishes, and 
though there might be at times a little local music, as 
an accompaniment, the hymns were generally drawled 
out without music at all. This is Horace Walpole's 
idea of church in 1 79 1 : "I have always gone now 
and then, though of late years rarely, as it was most 
unpleasant to crawl through a churchyard full of staring 
footmen and apprentices, clamber a ladder to a hard 
pew, to hear the dullest of all things, a sermon, and 
croaking and squalling of psalms to a hand org^ by 
journey-men brewers and charity children." 

The sermons were peculiarly dry and dull, and it 
would have taken a clever man to suck any spiritual 
nourishment therefrom. They were generally on points 
of doctrine, read without modulation ; and if, as was 
frequently the case, the clergyman had not the energy 
to prepare his own, a sermon from any dreary collection 
sufficed. The black gown was used in the pulpit. 


Cowper gives a picture of how the service was often 
taken — 

"I venerate the man whose heart is warm; 
Whose hands are pure, whose doctrine and whose life 
Coincident, exhibit lucid proof 
That he is honest in the sacred cause. 
A messenger of grace to guilty men. 
Behold the jncture ! Is it like? Like whom? 
The things that mount the rostrum with a skip. 
And then skip down again ; pronounce a text, 
Cry, ahem ! and reading what they never wrote. 
Just fifteen minutes, huddle up their work. 
And with a well-bred whisper, close the scene. '* 

In this dismal account the average only is taken, 
and there were many exceptions; we have no reason 
to suppose, for instance, that the Rev. George Austen 
marred his services by slovenliness or indifference, 
though no doubt the most earnest man would find it 
hard to struggle against the disadvantages of his time, 
and the damp mouldy church must have been a sore 
drawback to church-going. 

Twining's Country Clergyman gives us a picture of 
an amiable sort of man of a much pleasanter type than 
those of Cowper or Crabbe. 

We gain an idea of a man of a genial, pleasant 
disposition, cultured enough, and fond of the classics ; 
who kept his house and garden well ordered, who 
enjoyed a tour throughout England in company with 
his wife, who thoroughly appreciated the lines in which 
his lot was cast, but who looked upon the living as made 
for him, and not he for the parishioners. A writer in 
the Comhill some years ago gives a series of pleasant 
little pen-pictures of typical clergymen of this date. 
"Who cannot see it all — the curate-in-charge himself 
sauntering up and down the grass on a fine summer 
morning, his hands in the pockets of his black or drab 


'small clothes,' his feet encased in broad-toed shoes* 
his white neckcloth voluminous and staichless, his 
low-crowned hat a little on one side of his powdered 
head, his eye wandering about from tree to flower, 
and from bird to bush, as he chews the cud of some 
puzzling construction in Pindar, or casts and recasts 
some favourite passage in his translation of Aristotle.* 

There was the fox-hunter who in the time not 
devoted to sport was always ** welcome to the cottager's 
wife at that hour in the afternoon when she had made 
herself tidy, swept up the hearth, and was sitting down 
before the fire with the stockings of the family before 
her. He would chat with her about the news of the 
village, give her a friendly hint about her husband's 
absence from church, and perhaps, before going, would 
be taken out to look at the pig/' 

Or ''the pleasant genial old gentleman in knee- 
breeches and sometimes top-boots, who fed his poultry, 
and went into the stable to scratch the ears of his 
favourite cob, and round by the pig-stye to the kitchen 
garden, where he took a turn for an hour or two with 
his spade or his pruning knife, or sauntered with his 
hands in his pockets in the direction of the cucumbers 
• . . coming in to an early dinner." 

Mr. Austen seems to have been a mixture of the 
first and third of these types, for he was certainly a 
good scholar, and yet some of his chief interests in 
life were connected with his pigs and his sheep. 

But though these are charming sketches, and their 
counterparts were doubtless to be found, we fear they 
are too much idealised to be a true representation of the 
generality of the clergy of that time ; and, charming as 
they are, there is an easy freedom from the responsibility 
of office which is strange to modem ideas. 

Livings, many of which are bad enough now, were 

42 JANE AUsnasr and her times 

then even worse paid; £2$ a year was the ordinary 
stipend for a curate who did most of the work. 
Massey {History of England in the Reign of George IL) 
estimates that there were then five thousand livings 
under £Zo a year in England; consequently pluralism 
was oftentimes almost a necessity. Gilbert White, 
the naturalist, was a shining light among clergymen ; 
he was vicar of Selborne, in Hampshire, until his 
death in 1793; but while he was curate of Durley, 
near Bishop's Waltham, the actual expenses of the duty 
exceeded the receipts by nearly twenty pounds in the 
one year he was there. To reside at all was a great 
thing for a clergyman to do, and we may be sure, from 
what we gather, that the Rev. George Austen had this 
virtue, for he resided all the time at Steventon. 

But though the clergy frequently left all the work to 
their curates, they always took care to receive the tithes 
themselves. In the picture engraved by T. Burke after 
Singleton, in the period under discussion, we see the fat 
and somewhat cross-looking vicar receiving these tithes 
in kind from the little boy, who brings his basket con- 
taining a couple of ducks and a sucking pig into the 
vicarage study. 

Hannah More gives us an account of the usual state 
of things in regard to non-residence — 

" The vicarage of Cheddar is in the gift of the Dean 
of Wells; the value nearly fifty pounds per annum. 
The incumbent is a Mr. R., who has something to do, 
but I cannot find out what, in the University of Oxford, 
where he resides. The curate lives at Wells, twelve 
miles distant They have only service once a week, 
and there is scarcely an instance of a poor person being 
visited or prayed with. The living of Axbridge . . . 
annual value is about fifty pounds. The incumbent 
about sixty years of age. Mr. G. is intoxicated about 




six times a week, and very frequently is prevented from 
preaching by two black eyes, honestly earned by 

" We have in this neighbourhood thirteen adjoining 
parishes without so much as even a resident curate.'' 

'^ No clergyman had resided in the parish for forty 
years. One rode over three miles from Wells to preach 
once on a Sunday, but no weekly duty was done or 
sick persons visited; and children were often buried 
without any funeral service. Eight people in the 
morning, and twenty in the afternoon, was a good 

She evidently means that the service was sometimes 
held in the morning, and sometimes in the afternoon, as 
she says there were not two services. 

She also speaks of it as an exceptionally dis- 
interested action of Dr. Kennicott that he had resigned 
a valuable living because his learned work would not 
allow him to reside in the parish. 

By far the best account of what was expected from 
a contemporary clergyman is to be gathered from Jane 
Austen's own books. It is one of her strong points that 
she wrote only of what she knew, and as her own father 
and two of her brothers were clergymen, we cannot 
suppose that she was otherwise than favourably inclined 
to the class. Her sketch of Mr. Collins is no doubt 
something of a caricature, but it serves to illustrate very 
forcibly one great error in the system then in vogue — 
that of local patronage. 

The other clergymen in her books are numerous: 
we have Mr. Elton in Emmay Edmund Bertram and Dr. 
Grant in Afansfield Park^ Henry Tilney in Northanger 
Abbey y and Edward Ferrars in Sense and Sensibility. 

It is impossible to deny that Edmund Bertram is a 
prig, or perhaps, to put it more mildly, is inclined to be 


I ' I X 

ffntigntioii% so MWiirtmics one ainwwl' symialinsrs witli 
tne gty Miss Cnwfanl, vhosc idcaB so Aorkfd him 
dud Fannjr; ytt tlioi^;h tbose ideas caiy reflected the 
ciuicut opuuoo of the tiinr% they wcic repfdiensible 
caong^ When Miss Cmrfard disoovcfs, to her diagiin, 
that Edmund, whom die is inclined to like mote flian a 
Ifttl^ is going to be a detgyman, die asks — 

** ' Bot why are yoa to be a cleig)rman? I thought 
that was always the lot of the yomigest, where there 
were many to choose before him ! ' 

'"Do 3roa think the Choreh itsdf never chosen, 

'^ ' Never is a black word. Bot j^es, in the never of 
co n ver sa tion which means not very often, 1 4o think it 
For what is to be done in the Church? Men love to 
distingubh themse|yes, and in either of the other lines 
distinction may be gained, but not in the Church* A 
clergyman is nothing/ " 

And in reply to Edmund's defence, she continues — 

^'You assign greater consequence to a clergjonan 
than one has been used to hear given, or than I can 
quite comprehend. One does not see much of this 
influence and importance in society, and how can it be 
acquired where they are so seldom seen themselves? 
How can two sermons a week, even supposing them 
worth hearing, supposing the preacher to have the sense 
to prefer Blair's to his own, do all that you speak of, 
govern the conduct and fashion and manners^f a large 
congregation for the rest of the week? One scarcely 
sees a clergyman out of his pulpit 1 ' 

'''You are speaking of London, I am speaking of 
the nation at large.' " 

But it is noteworthy that even Edmund, who is 
upheld as a bright example, does not in his defence 
assert anything relative to the careful looking after the 


lives of his flock which nowadays is a chief pait of a 
parish clergyman's duty. He speaks of conduct, and 
declares that " as the clergy are or are not vdiat they 
ought to be, so are the rest of the nation," but all the 
retort he wins from the girl he so much admires is tiiat 
she is just as much surprised at his ch<Mce as ever, and 
that he really is fit for something better ! 

In another place, where the same discussion is 
reopened, she says : '"It is indolence, Mr. Bertram, 
indeed — indolence and love of ease — a want of all 
laudable ambition, of taste for good company, or of 
inclination to take the trouble of being agreeable, which 
make men clergymen. A clergyman has nothing to do 
but to be slovenly and selfish, read the newspaper, watch 
the weather, and quarrel with his wife. . His curate does 
all the work, and the business of his own life is to 

This type is exemplified in the same book by Dr. 
Grant, who is not drawn vindictively, but is described 
by his own sister-in-law. Miss Crawford, as "'an 
indolent, selfish don vtvant, who must have his palate 
consulted in everything; who will not stir a finger for 
the convenience of anyone; and who, moreover, if the 
cook makes a blunder, is out of humour with his 
excellent wife. To own the truth, Henry and I were 
driven out this very evening by a disappointment about 
a green goose, which he could not get the better o£ 
My poor sister was forced to stay and bear it' " 

And %dien Edmund is about to enter on the living, 
Hemy Crawford gaily observes, " ' I apprehend he will 
not have less dian seven hundred a year. Seven 
Imiidred a year b a fine thing for a younger brother; 
and as, of oomse, he will still five at home, it will be all 
for Us memms plmsirs ; and a sermon at Christmas and 
Easter, I s up pose, will be the sum total cis^cxiBet!'^ 


After all this, it is pleasant to know that some 
upright and serious men, even in those days, thought 
differently of the life and duties of a clergyman, for 
Jane makes Sir Thomas Bertram reply — 

" * A parish has wants and claims which can be 
known only by a clergyman constantly resident, and 
which no proxy can be capable of satisfying to the same 
extent. Edmund might, in the common phrase, do the 
duty of Thornton, that is, he might read prayers and 
preach without giving up Mansfield Park ; he might ride 
over every Sunday to a house nominally inhabited, and 
go through divine service ; he might be the clergyman 
of Thornton Lacey every seventh day, for three or four 
hours, if that would content him. But it will not He 
knows that human nature needs more lessons than a 
weekly sermon can convey ; and that if he does'^not live 
among his parishioners, and prove himself by constant 
attention to be their well-wisher and friend, he does very 
little either for their good or his own.' " 

It is also striking to see how very much the taking 
of Orders depended upon some living to be obtained ; 
there seems to have been no special idea of suitability, 
and still less of preparation, only the merest and most 
perfunctory examination was demanded of the candidate 
for Orders. There is a story of this date of one exam- 
ination for ordination where only two questions were 
asked, one of which was, "What is the Hebrew for a 
skull ? " 

In an entertaining book on Jane Austen by Miss 
Constance Hill, published in 1902, there is a quotation 
from a letter anent the ordination examination of Mr. 
Lefroy, who married Anna, Jane's niece. " The Bishop 
only asked him two questions, first if he was the son of 
Mrs. Lefroy of Ashe, and secondly if he had married a 
Miss Austen." 


It is said also that Brownlow North, Bishop of 
Winchester, examined his candidates for ordinatioQ in 
a cricket - field during a match. One candidate is 
described by Boswell as having read no books of 
divinity, not even the Greek Testament There were, 
of course, serious and learned bishops enough; Burnet, 
Bishop of Salisbury, who lived from 1643 ^o ^7^ St 
was horrified at the ignorance of candidates, who 
apparently had never read the Old Testament and 
hardly knew what was in the New. "They cry, and 
think it a sad disgrace to be denied Orders, though the 
ignorance of some is such that in a well-regulated state 
of things they would appear not to know enough to be 
admitted to the Holy Sacrament" 

It is probable that the Bishops judged a great deal 
more, on the whole, by the appearance and manners of 
the man before them, and the prospects he had of 
holding a living, than by his own knowledge, and in 
the case erf* a well-bom, serious-minded man like Edmund 
Bertram there would be no difficulty whatever about his 
lack erf* divinity. 

Of Henry Tilne/s duties in Northanger Abbey ^ very 
little can be said or gathered, he never appears like a 
defgyman at alL We are told that the parsonage was 
a '^ new built, substantial stone house.** We know that 
he had to go there, much to Catherine Morland's distress, 
when siie was a guest at his father's house, Northanger 
Abbc^, because the engagements of his citrate at Wood'* 
stKMi ob£ged him to leave on Saturday fior a couple of 
nig^Ms. But at all events he does seem to have spent 
most cf has time at the parsonage, though be still kep^ 
en his loom at hornet 

<ji Ejirarsad Fenanf derical avocataoos we also hear 
so -verir itlje that he ciigbt almost as wdl have beeo c4 


•/. I >; 

The only other clerg3aiian in the noveb is Mr. Elton, 
a spedmen not quite so egregioas as Mr. Collins, but 
snfficientljr so to be very amusing. On him the waves 
of Emma's match-making Ixeak with force — 

«< « Poor Mr. Elton ! You like Mr. Elton, papa ! I 
must look about for a wife for him. There is nobody in 
Highbury who deserves him, and he has been here a 
whole year, and has fitted up his house so comfortably 
that it would be a shame to have him single any longer ; 
and I thought when he was joining their hands to-day, 
he looked so very much as if he would like to have the 
same kind office done for him ! ' " 

Emma thinks he will do admirably for her somewhat 
ambiguously placed friend Harriet Smith, while Mr. 
Elton himself fixes his eyes on the heiress Emma. A 
nice little illustration of the social status of the cleric, 
who would not have been thought entirely out of the 
question for the heiress, though doubtless a little beneath 
her. Mr. Elton is represented as a handsome, ingratiat- 
ing, debonair young man, who spends his time playing 
the gallant, reading aloud, making charades with the 
young ladies, and preaching sermons that please every- 
body. However, he meets his match in the dashing and 
vulgar Mrs. Elton, whom he picks up, soon after his 
rejection by Emma, at a watering place, and thereafter 
they spend their time in a blissful state of mutual 


FOR the first five-and-twenty years of her life, from 
her birth in December 1775 to the spring of 
1 80 1, Jane lived at Steventon, in her father's rectory, as 
peaceful and quiet a home as even she could have wished. 
But though her own circumstances were peaceful and 
happy, the great world without was full of flux and 

Wars and rumours of wars, revolutions and upheavals, 
which changed the whole face of Europe, were going on 
year by year, but of these things, as I have said, hardly 
an echo reaches us in her writing; not even in the 
correspondence with her sister, which begins in 1796 
when the turmoil was at its height, which is the more 
surprising when we consider that her own sailor brothers 
were taking an active part in aflairs; and her cousin, 
the Countess de Feuillade, had fled to the Austens 
for shelter when her husband suffered death by the 
guillotine. What depths these things stirred in Jane, 
or whether she lacked the imagination to bring home 
to her their enormous importance relative to the 
small details of immediate surroundings, we shall never 
know. Her minute observation, her unrivalled faculty 
for using that which lay under her hand, the stores of 
little human characteristics which, by her transmuting 
touch, she invested with such intense interest, lead one 



to suppose that such a clear, near-sighted mental vision 
carried with it defective mental long sight. There are 
a number of persons who, deeply and warmly interested 
in that which immediately appeals to them, cannot throw 
their sympathy far out over unseen events and persons. 
We are all prone to this, there is not one of us who is 
not more affected by a single tragic death in the neigh- 
bourhood than by the loss of a hundred lives in America ; 
life in this world would be intolerable were it not so, this 
is one of the provisions of a merciful providence for 
making it endurable. But there are some more near- 
sighted in this respect than others, and from internal 
evidence in the letters we may judge that Jane 
belonged to them ; it is only conjecture, but it is 
often the case in life, that virtues carry correspond- 
ing faults, that extreme cleverness in one direction 
induces a little want of perception in another. The law 
of balance and compensation is so omnipresent, that 
Jane's intensely clear vision in regard to near objects 
may have been paid for by absorption in them, somewhat 
to the exclusion of larger interests. 

In 1789, while she was yet but fourteen years old, 
there began that Revolution which, taking it altogether, 
is the most tremendous fact in the history of Europe 
France was seething, but as yet the ferment had not 
affected other nations. In the July of that year the 
tricolour was adopted as the national flag, excess reigned 
supreme, and the nobles began to emigrate. It was not 
until 1792 that France began to grasp the lands of 
others, and reached forth the first of those tentacles, 
which, like those of an octopus, were to spread all over 
Europe. In the beginning Austria and Prussia opposed 
her, but after the murder of the French King, in January 
1793, England was forced to join in to protect Holland, 
and to uphold the general status of nations. Treaties 


were signed between almost all the civilised nations of 
Europe, for the crushing of a common enemy ; Switzer- 
land alone, of those affected by France's movements, 
remaining perfectly neutral 

The echoes of the Reign of Terror that followed 
must have reached even to the remotest recesses of 
England, and it is impossible to believe that the Austens 
were not deeply affected. 

Walpole's forcible language on the Revolution shows 
its effect on contemporary opinion : ** I have wanted to 
vent myself. Madam [the Countess of Ossory], but the 
French have destroyed the power of words. There is 
neither substantive nor epithet that can express the 
horror they have excited 1 Brutal insolence, bloody 
ferocity, savage barbarity, malicious injustice, can no 
longer be used but of some civilised country, where there 
is still some appearance of government Atrocious frenzy 
would, till these days, have sounded too outrageous to be 
pronounced of a whole city — now it is too temperate a 
phrase for Paris, and would seem to palliate the enormity 
of their guilt by supposing madness the spring of it — 
but though one pities a herd of swine that are actuated 
by demons to rush into the sea, even those diabolical 
vagaries are momentary, not stationary, they do not last 
for three years together nor infect a whole nation — thank 
God it is but one nation that has ever produced two 
fpiassacres of Paris." 

^ But of all their barbarities the most inhuman has been 
their not putting the poor wretched King and Queen to 
death three years ago. If thousands have been murdered, 
tortured, broiled, it has been extempore ; but Louis and 
his Queen have suffered daily deaths in apprehension for 
themselves and their children." 

The newspapers gave long extracts from the doings 
of the National Assembly, but of course these always 


appeared some days subsequently to the events. The 
news of the death of the French King was known, by 
rumour at least, with extraordinary quickness, about two 
days after it happened, and was received with execration. 
Detailed accounts did not come in until some days after. 
The first notice is thus announced in the St James's 
Chronicle: **The murder took place at four in the 
morning on Monday, and was conducted in the most 
private manner. The guillotine was erected in a court 
of the Temple. A hole dug under it into which the 
King's head fell, and his body was precipitated after." 
This was incorrect in some particulars, as the murder did 
not take place until after ten in the morning. In all the 
newspapers of the time, there are little sentences that 
strike us sadly even now, and when freshly recorded, as 
having just happened, they must have moved many 
persons to deep sorrow, July i, 1793, "A greater 
regard is shown for the august prisoners. A small 
waggon has been sent in loaded with playthings for the 
son of the unfortunate Louis xvi." " After many 
entreaties the widow of Capet finally resolved to deliver 
up to us her son, who has been conducted to the 
apartments designed for him under the care of citizen 
Simon." Charlotte Corday's bold speech, when she was 
brought up to answer for her murder of the tyrant, is 
quoted : " I did not expect to appear before you ; I 
always thought that I should be delivered up to the rage 
of the people, torn in pieces, and that my head, stuck 
upon the top of a pike, would have preceded Marat on 
his state bed to serve as a rallying point to Frenchmen, 
if there still are any worthy of that name." 

In August of the same year, the death of Marie 
Antoinette was daily expected. "The queen was 
dressed in white lawn and wore a black girdle . . . her 
cell is only eight feet long, and eight feet wide. Her 


couch consists of a hard straw bed and very thin 
coverings ; her diet, soup and boiled meat." 

But in an anguish of mind which must have made 
her indifferent to .the horrors of material surroundings, 
the poor Queen was kept alive until October, when 
finally news came of her execution. *' As soon as the 
ci-devant queen left the Conciergerie to ascend the 
scaffold, the multitude cried out brava in the midst of 
plaudits. Marie Antoinette had on a white loose dress, 
her hands were tied behind her back. She looked firmly 
round her on all sides, and on the scaffold preserved her 
natural dignity of mind." 

This is the kind of reading of contemporary events 
that would greet Jane when the household received its 
bi-weekly or tri-weekly paper. 

All through 1794 war continued, while the French 
slowly bored their way into the Continent Of the 
splendid naval victories of these years -M^e speak in the 
chapter on the Navy ; these surely must have affected ' 
Jane, and made her heart beat high at the thought of 
what her brothers might be called upon to undergo any 
day. Toward the end of 1795, Austria and Britain 
alone were left to uphold the right of nations against 
the all-devouring French. In England food was at 
famine prices, and there was actually a party who wished 
the enemy to win in order that the war might end. 
London was in a state of great agitation, so that public 
meetings were suppressed in the interests of public 
safety. In 1796, Spain declared war against Great 
Britain, having previously patched up peace with her 
dangerous neighbour. In this year Napoleon Buona- 
parte first began to be heard of outside his own country, 
by his successes in his Italian campaign. 

England, in sore straits, attempted to make peace, 
but the arrogance of France left her no other course 


compatible with honour than to continue the war, and 
the opening of 1797 found her in great difficulties. On 
all sides invasion by France was dreaded ; in fact, in the 
previous December an attempt at such an invasion by 
landing on the coast of Ireland, which was in a state of 
bitter rebellion, was made. In February the victory of 
St Vincent put a little heart into the English people, and 
did away for a time with the possibility of another 
attempt at invasion by Hoche, whose fleet was scattered 
by a storm. In May of 1797 a dangerous mutiny broke 
out among the sailors, followed by another at the Nore, 
but these were firmly quelled. 

In 1798, Napoleon's Egyptian campaign must have 
been followed with tense interest, though news would be 
slow in coming, and it would probably be many days 
before the news of Lord Nelson's glorious victory at the 
Battle of the Nile, which had smashed up the French 
fleet and left Napoleon stranded, was received in 
England. This victory gave renewed spirit to the Allies 
in Europe. A whole string of affiliated Republics had 
now been established by France, made out of her 
conquests — including Switzerland, whose strict neutrality 
had not preserved her from invasion. Yet Austria 
carried on her share of the war bravely, and in the 
autumn of 1799 the English made a desperate attempt 
to retrieve the integrity of Holland, but after a short 
campaign were compelled to evacuate the country. In 
October 1 799, Napoleon, finding his dreams of establish- 
ing a great Eastern kingdom impracticable, returned to 
France, and in the December of the same year was 
acclaimed First Consul. 

Thus, from her early girlhood, Jane would hear of 
events which greatly aflected her own country, she 
would be accustomed to a perpetual state of war, she 
would share in the apprehensions of invasions, and 


the name of Napoleon, ever swelling into greater and 
greater menace, would continually strike upon her 

In November 1800, Jane makes one of her few 
allusions to historical events, and then only because it 
concerned her brother. "The Petterel with the rest 
of the Egyptian squadron was off the Isle of Cyprus, 
whither they went from Jaffa for provisions, and whence 
they were to sail in a day or two for Alexandria, there 
to await the result of the English proposals for the 
evacuation of Egypt." 

In 1 800, with Buonaparte at the head of a military 
despotism, a new era began in the war. The two terrific 
battles of Marengo and Hohenlinden, hotly contested, left 
the French victors ; and at the latter seven thousand of 
the Allies were taken prisoners, and seven thousand killed 
and wounded. 

In this year, at home the most important event was 
the Union of Ireland with Great Britain. 

When the Continental war was going on, the news 
from the field of battle was generally eight or nine days 
old. But this, of course, was nothing to the time which 
elapsed in the case of India, for events which had 
happened there in February were given to the public as 
news in August I Then, indeed, to send a boy to the 
East was to part with him in reality. There was a long 
voyage round the Cape, prolonged indefinitely by wind 
and weather, to encounter. It would be a year from his 
setting out before the news of his arrival could reach his 
relations in England. It is the enormous difference made 
by the tel^[raph that strikes us most in the contempla* 
tion of this era. Of course the ofBciab in India could 
not get instructions from home, they were responsible for 
the conduct of affairs, and the sense of responsibility and 
the impossibility of bring checked in an)rthing they wished 



to do, no doubt gave them that splendid decision which 
won for us our Indian Empire. 

It was in 1784 that the India Act, introduced by 
Pitt, had given England power over Indian affairs. In 
the following year, Hastings had returned home, and his 
celebrated trial, ending in his complete acquittal in I795> 
must have taught the English more about Indian matters 
than they had ever known before. To attend the trial 
in Westminster Hall was one of the society diversions of 
the day. 

In 1 79 1, in one day, the Duchess of Gordon "went 
to Handel's music in the Abbey; she then clambered 
over the benches and went to Hastings' trial in the Hall ; 
after dinner to the play; then to Lady Lucan's 
assembly ; after that to Ranelagh, and returned to Mrs. 
Hobart's faro table ; gave a ball herself in the evening 
of that morning, into which she must have got a good 
way, and set out for Scotland the next day." 

Long before Jane's death, the mighty Empire of India 
had passed almost completely under British control 
But if her lifetime saw the foundation of one Empire it 
witnessed also the loss of another country. The United 
States were declared independent in the first year of her 
life, and before she was of an age to take any practical 
note of politics they had been recognised by France as 
an independent nation. She lived, indeed, in an epoch 
when history was made, and she lived on into a new era 
of things, when Buonaparte was finally subdued, France 
settled, the Continent at peace. At present we have 
only briefly outlined the extraordinary series of events 
which filled the five-and-twenty years during which she, 
living in her sheltered nook at Steventon, heard only 
echoes. There is something peculiarly suitable in pictur- 
ing her in this tranquil backwater. 

As far as Jane's personal appearance is concerned, we 


can gather some notion of her, though the materials are 
slight The only portrait preserved of her when grown 
up is from a water-colour drawing by her sister, and repre* 
sents a bright, intelligent, but not very prepossessing face, 
with large eyes and a straight nose. There is humour 
and decision in the expression, and in spite of the quaint 
cap and the simple dress with elbow-sleeves and tucked 
chemisette, which make it look a little odd to modem 
eyes, there is distinct personality. It may be a good 
likeness of her as she was then, but, on the other hand, 
one must allow something for the treatment of an 
amateur, and we can afford to think of her as being more 
attractive than she is here represented. A contemporary 
verbal description left of her is that given by Sir Egerton 
Brydges, who knew her personally. He sajrs : " She was 
fair and handsome, slight and elegant, but with cheeks a 
little too full." We may well believe that, as to looks, 
she was in that middle state of neither exceptional 
beauty nor exceptional plainness, which is certainly the 
happiest. Emma Woodhouse is supposed to have 
resemUed her more than any of her other heroines, and 
she herself describes Emma by the mouth of one of the 
other characters in the book : ** ' Such an eye 1 the true 
hazel eye, and so brilliant! Regular features, open 
countenance, with a complexion— oh, what a bloom of 
full health ; and such a pretty height and size, such a 
firm and upright figure. There is health, not merely in 
her bloom, but in her air, her head, her glance. One 
sometimes hears of a child bdng ** the picture of health," 
now Emma always gives me the idea of being the 
complete picture ot grown-up health.' " 

The most exact personal description we have of Jane 
is to be found in the pre&ce to the first edition of 
Ncrihamger Abbey ^ written by her brother Henry. Alknr- 
iog for Ibc tact that tiiis was penned at a time when the 


hearts of all who knew her were bleeding for the early 
death by which she had been taken from them, and that 
her gentle and gradual decline had previously softened 
and toned down the whole of that bright lively nature, 
so that any small imperfections had been entirely 
smoothed away, we may gather a good picture of her 
from his words — 

" Her stature was that of true elegance, it could not 
have been increased without exceeding the middle height. 
Her carriage and deportment were quiet yet graceful. 
Her features were separately good. Their assemblage 
produced an unrivalled expression of that cheerfulness, 
sensibility, and benevolence, which were her real char- 
acteristics. Her complexion was of the finest texture. 
Her voice was extremely sweet." He says also that 
** she excelled in conversation as much as in composition ; 
she was faultless, and never commented with unkind- 
ness even on the vices of others ; she always sought in 
the faults of others something to excuse, forgive, or 
forget She never uttered a hasty, a silly, or a severe 
expression." He speaks further of her good memory, 
of her fondness for landscape, and her musical skill, and 
says that Johnson was her favourite author in prose, 
Cowper in verse. 

V Yet though bright and clever, and animated by 
indisputable genius, she was not intellectual ; the world of 
ideas held no place in her mind. We can see very well 
from her books that the great fundamental laws so 
important to a wide, deep mind were entirely ignored by 
her. She was of the mental calibre of her own Elizabeth 
Bennet, a bright intelligent companion, without depth or 
brain force. We cannot imagine her grasping abstrac- 
tions or wrestling with theories ; her mind was formed for 
practicalities and facts. 

Jane, we know, was very healthy and full of spirits, 




we hear of no ailments beyond a weakness of the eyes 
from which she certainly suffered ; she says, '' My eyes 
have been very indifferent since it [the last letter] was 
written, but are now getting better once more ; keeping 
them so many hours open on Thursday night, as well as 
the dust of the ballroom, injured them a good deal. 
I use them as little as I can, but you know, and every- 
body who has ever had weak eyes knows, how delightful 
it is to hurt them by employment, against the advice and 
entreaty of all one's friends." 

The Austens had special advantages in their position 
in the fact that they were relatives of Mr. Knight, to 
whom the whole parish belonged. Mr. Austen seems to 
have been referred to, in the absence of Mr. Knight, as a 
kind of squire. He lived simply, but had apparently 
enough money to allow his daughters the privileges of 
gentlewomen, and they went to all the dances and balls 
in the neighbourhood, and paid frequent visits to their 
brothers' houses for weeks at a time. Mr. Austen kept 
a carriage and pair, though that meant less than it would 
do now, as private means of conveyance was much more 
necessary and there was no carriage tax to add to the 

Mrs. Austen seems to have been constantly ailing, 
which threw the housekeeping a good deal into the hands 
of her daughters. It is possible that her ailments were 
more imaginary than real, as she lived to a great age, and 
in her old age employed herself about the garden and 
poultry, and is spoken of as being brisk and bright 
Perhaps she grew more energetic as she grew older, a 
not uncommon process. Jane's allusions to her mother's 
health are frequent, and sometimes seem to point to the 
fact that she did not altogether believe in them — 

" Now indeed we are likely to have a wet day, and 
though Sunday, my mother begins it without any ailment." 


" It began to occur to me before you mentioned it, 
that I had been somewhat silent as to my mother's health 
for some time, but I thought you could have no difficulty 
in divining its exact state — ^you, who have guessed so 
much stranger things. She is tolerably well, better upon 
the whole than she was some weeks ago. She would tell 
you herself that she has a very dreadful cold in her head 
at present, but I have not much compassion for colds in 
the head without fever or sore throat." 

" My mother continues hearty ; her appetite and 
nights are very good, but she sometimes complains of an 
asthma, a dropsy, water in her chest, and a liver disorder." 

" For a day or two last week my mother was very 
poorly with a return of one of her old complaints, but it 
did not last long, and seems to have left nothing bad 
behind it She began to talk of a serious illness, her two 
last having been preceded by the same symptoms, but 
thank heaven she is now quite as well as one can expect 
her to be in the weather which deprives her of exercise." 

In the family memoirs, Mrs. George Austen is always 
spoken of as a person of wit and imagination, in whom 
might be found the germs of her daughter's genius ; such 
opinion based on recollections must be deferred to, but 
such is not the picture we gather from the letters. There, 
Mrs. Austen seems to have exercised none but the 
slightest influence on her daughters' lives, and when they 
do mention her, it is only to remark on her health, or 
the care of her in a journey, or that she will not have 
anything to do with choosing the furniture for the new 
home in Bath. 

It is a curious circumstance, taken in conjunction 
with this, that all the mothers of Jane's heroines, when 
living, are described as fools or worse. It is not in- 
tended to hint that she drew such characters from the 
home circle or from her mother's friends, but it is plainly 


to be seen that she did not look for, or expect from 
women of this standing, the wit and sense she found 
elsewhere. Indeed, when one thinks of the bringing up 
of women in those days, their narrowness of education 
and extraordinary ignorance of the world, it is wonder- 
ful how many did possess keen sense and mother wit. 
The most notable of the examples in point in the books 
is Mrs. Bennet in Pride and Prejudice^ who, with her 
foolish indulgence of her younger children, her mad desire 
to get her daughters married to anyone who could furnish 
a home of whatever sort, is the worst specimen of her 
kind. " ' Oh, Mr. Bennet, you are wanted immediately ; 
we are all in an uproar. You must come and make 
Lizzie marry Mr. Collins, for she vows she will not have 
him ; and if you do not make haste he will change his 
mind and not have her.' " Mr. Bennet's subsequent calm 
rebuke in his admonition to his daughter, " ' An unhappy 
alternative is before you, Elizabeth. From this day you 
must be a stranger to one of your parents. Your mother 
will never see you again if you do not marry Mr. Collins, 
and I will never see you again if you do,' " heightens the 
effect of his wife's folly. 

Mrs. Bennet's fatuous self-complacency, selfishness, 
and want of sense might have been almost too painful 
to cause amusement even in a book, had they not 
been set off by her husband's sardonic humour, just 
the touch that Jane Austen knew so well how to 

But Mrs. Bennet is not the only one. Mrs. Jennings, 
in Sense and Sensibility^ is "a good-humoured, merry, 
fat, elderly woman, who talked a great deal, seemed very 
happy and rather vulgar." She is perpetually making 
the Dashwood girls wince with her outspoken allusions, 
and seems altc^ether deficient in taste and sense, though 
extremdy kind-hearted. 


As for Mrs. Dashwood senior, in the same book» in 
her belief in the charming but double-faced Willoughby, 
she is, if possible, one degree more credulous than her 
most foolish daughter. Lady Bertram of Mansfield Park 
is kind enough to her niece in her own way, but " she 
did not go into public with her daughters. She was too 
indolent even to accept a mother's gratification in 
witnessing their success and enjoyment at the expense 
of any personal trouble.*' '' Lady Bertram did not at all 
like to have her husband leave her; but she was not 
disturbed by any alarm for his safety or solicitude for his 
comfort, being one of those persons who think nothing 
can be dangerous or difficult or fatiguing to anyone but 

Mrs. Musgrove senior, in Persuasion^ is nothing but 
a soft-hearted fool, and '' Captain Wentworth should be 
allowed some credit for the self-command with which he 
attended to her large fat sighings over the destiny of a 
son whom, alive, nobody had cared for." 

The middle-aged women without daughters, such as 
Lady Russell and Mrs. Croft, in the same book, are 
allowed to be sensible, but a mother with grown-up 
daughters seems always to be mercilessly delineated by 

Of Mr. Austen not much is known ; he was a quiet, 
reserved man, noted for his good looks, and clever 
enough to educate his sons for the University himself. 
In his younger days he took pupils, and it was one of 
these pupils who in after years became so much attached 
to Cassandra that he entered into the engagement with 
her which terminated so sadly. Mr. Austen probably 
kept a restraining hand over his large household, and was 
responsible for the sensible and kindly upbringing which 
his daughters received ; he seems to have placed no 
restraint whatever on their pleasures as they grew up. 


It may be noted that the husbands of all the foolish 
women in Jane's books noted above are sensible, self- 
restrained, capable men. 

As for the surroundings and small details of the 
home where Jane remained with her sister and parents 
when the brothers went out into the world, it is very 
difficult to give an adequate picture. There was a great 
simplicity, and an absence of many things which are now 
turned out in profusion by machinery but were then 
not known. We have all of us been in old houses of 
the simpler kind, and noted the severity of uncomiced 
walls, the smallness of the inconvenient sash-windows, 
the plainness of the whole aspect To the furniture, also, 
the same remarks would apply, there would be fewer 
things and of a more solid kind. " Perhaps we should 
be most struck with the total absence of those elegant 
little articles which now embellish and encumber our 
drawing-room tables. We should miss the sliding 
bookcases, and picture stands, the letter weighing 
machines and envelope cases, the periodicals and illus- 
trated newspapers — above all, the countless swarm of 
photograph books which now threaten to swallow up 
all space." (Mr. Austen-Leigh in the Memoir.) 

By the following quotation from Jane herself before 
the removal to Bath, what a vision is instantly conjured 
up of the yellow speckled prints in cheap, varnished 
frames, the crude colours and stereotyped subjects of 
those old pictures which still occasionally remain in the 
spare rooms of country houses — 

"As to our pictures, the battle piece, Mr. Nibbs, 
Sir William East, and all the old heterogeneous mis- 
cellany, manuscript, scriptural pieces dispersed over the 
house are to be given to James. Your own drawings 
will not cease to be your own, and the two paintings 
on tin will be at your disposal. My mother says that 


the French agricultural prints in the best bedroom were 
given by Eldward to his two sisters." 

In regard to minor matters of domestic comfort, 
lucifer matches were not in general use until 1834, 
though the fact that they were anticipated by some 
genius in advance of his time is evidenced by this ad- 
vertisement in the Morning Post of 1788 — 

" For Travellers, Mariners, etc., Promethean Fire and 

'' G. Watts respectfully acquaints the public that he 
has prepared a large variety of machines of a portable 
and durable kind, with Promethean fire, paper and 
match enclosed, most admirably calculated to prevent 
those disagreeable sensations which most frequently 
arise in the dreary hour of midnight, from sudden alarm, 
thieves, fire, or sickness." 

Considering this, it is probable that some sort of 
sulphur match was in use before 1834, though the 
general method would be the tedious flint and steel. 

For firing, wood was, of course, largely used, the 
cottagers depended totally on ''pilfering, breaking 
hedges, and cutting trees." Coal was very expensive, 
being of course mined with difficulty in the pre- 
machinery days; here is a contemporary account of a 
visit to a coal-mine in Yorkshire, " We Kad the 
curiosity to walk and take a near outside view of one 
seventy yards deep. The manner they work them is 
strange and not a little dangerous, as they are obliged 
to have candles, and sometimes with a roof so low that 
men dig on their knees. . . . They have two boxes which 
are alternately pulled up and down by pullies worked by 
a horse, which goes round and round in a sort of well." 

Added to the expense of mining was the expense 
of carriage, which, in the days before railways, had to 
be done by canal or sea, and the term sea-coal so 


frequently used in the literature of the day refers to 
this sea-borne coal. Sometimes after a storm the 
vessels were delayed, so that the scarcity of coal ran up 
the price enormously. 

This is a brief sketch of the details at the rectory. 
In such a home there was plenty of occupation for a 
bright spirit like Jane's, and we can hardly imagine her 
ever to have been idle. When her sister was away, she 
undertook the housekeeping, and writes playfully — 

''My mother desires me to tell you that I am a 
good housekeeper, which I have no reluctance in doing, 
because I really think it my peculiar excellence, and 
for this reason — I always take care to provide such 
things as please my own appetite, which I consider as 
the chief merit in housekeeping. I have had some 
ragout veal, and I mean to have some haricot mutton 
to-morrow. We are to kill a pig soon." 

" I am. very fond of experimental housekeeping, such 
as having an ox-cheek now and then ; I shall have one 
next week, and I mean to have some little dumplings 
put into it." 

At another time, speaking of the family doctor, 
she says — 

" I was not ashamed of asking him to sit down to 
table, for we had some pease-soup, a sparerib, and a 

Dinner at that date (1799) was, for the unfashion- 
able, at the hour of three, and for the fashionable not 
earlier than five, and sometimes much later. Lady 
Newdigate {The Cheverels of Cheverel Manor) says, 
"The hours of the family arc what the polite world 
would not conform to, viz., breakfast at half past eight, 
dine at half past three, supper at nine, and go to bed 
at ten." 

Jane Austen in her home life was not in a fashion- 




able set, and her people did not ape the manners of 
society ; she writes at another time, '' We dine now at 
half past three, and have done dinner I suppose before 
you begin ; we drink tea at half past six" 

When she went to stay at Godmersham, which 
she frequently did, she mingled with county people and 
noted their manners and ways ; but she was entirely free 
from snobbishness, and her quiet satire of those who 
imitated all the superficial details in the life of a higher 
class than their own is seen in her account of Tom 
Musgrave in Tke Watsons, who condescends to stay and 
play cards with the Watsons until nine, when ^the 
carriage was ordered to the door, and no entreaties for 
his staying longer could now avail; for he well knew 
that if he stayed he would have to sit down to supper 
in less than ten minutes, which, to a man whose heart 
had long been fixed on calling his next meal a dinner, 
was quite insupportable." 

It is not difficult to trace the evolution of the dinner- 
hour; in the time of Pepys, busy men rose early and 
took hardly any breakfast, perhaps a glass of wine or 
a draught of ale with a bit of bread. 

M. Grosley, a Frenchman who visited England about 
the middle of the eighteenth century, says that ''the 
butter and tea, which the Londoners live upon from the 
morning till three or four o'clock in the afternoon, occasion 
the chief consumption of bread, which is cut in slices, and 
so thin that it does as much honour to the address 
of the person who cuts it as to the sharpness of the 
knife. Two or three of these slices furnish out a 

After this slight repast, corresponding to the Con- 
tinental coffee and roll, men worked hard until dinner- 
time, a meal that occupied several hours, and at which 
they consumed an enormous amount ; and they did little 


or no work afterwards. It is easy to imagine how» on 
account of work, the early dinner-hour of the poorer 
classes at noon b^^n to be postponed among men who 
were more or less their own masters until they could 
feel, in a common phrase, they had " broken the back ot 
the day's work"; hence the curious hour of three. In 
out-of-the-way places to this day the Sunday dinner- 
hour is at four o'clock. When breakfast became more 
usual, it was not necessary to have dinner so early as 
three; and with our present fashion of breakfast and 
lunch, to say nothing of afternoon tea, which we have 
transferred from after to before dinner, the dinner may be 
postponed to as late an hour as is desired without incon- 

Mrs. Lybbe Fowys (then Caroline Girle) mentions in 
her lively Journal : ^ We had a breakfast at Holkbam in 
the genteelest taste, with all kinds of cakes and fruit, 
placed undesired in an apartment we were to go through, 
which, as the family were from home, I thought was very 
clever in the housekeeper, for one is often asked by people 
whether one chooses chocolate, which forbidding word 
puts (as intended) a n^;ative on the question.'' 

Table decorations were unknown even at large 
banquets, people sat on benches and were served in 
the simplest manner. Lady Newd^te gives an account 
of suppefs and prices when she was stByiag at Buxton — 

" Being examinfrf by the Bart in ii^;ard to our suppers 
and what we paid, lie pier cousin] owned that we were 
duuged but one dulling and it serais ti^ fay two. 
Upon this poor Mrs. Fox [the landlady] was attacked 
and abused in very gross termsL So die came to us 
with streaming eyes to b^ we would explain to the 
Hdmopstonfn that our suppers were never anything more 
than a tart and eoid chicken which we eat fdien the 
ctmnipmuy wcoc vo woppcr aoorc^ wnercss me tus cnktr 


a hot supper of five or six dishes to be got at nine 

She also gives many details as to the items con- 
stituting her meals : '* We are going to sup upon crawfish 
and roasted potatoes. Our feast [dinner] will consist of 
neck of mutton, Iamb steaks, cold beef, lobsters, prawns, 
and tart." 

This is the menu of a dinner given to Prince William 
of Gloucester in 1798 — 

Salmon Trout 


Fricando of VeaL Raised Giblet Pie. 

Vegetable Pudding. 

Chickens. Ham. 

MufBn Pudding. 

Curry of Rabbits. Preserve of Olives. 

Soup. Haunch of Venison. 

Open Tart Syllabub. Raised Jelly. 

Three Sweetbreads Larded. 

Maccaroni. Buttered Lobster. 



Baskets of Pastry. Custards. 


Forks were two-pronged and not in universal use; 
knives were broad-bladed at the ends, and it was the 
fashion to eat peas with them. 

" The taste for cleanliness has preserved the use of 
steel forks with two prongs. . • . With regard to little 
bits of meat, which cannot so well be taken hold of with 
the two pronged forks, recourse is had to the knife, which 
is broad and round at the extremity." 

It is to be wished that two-pronged forks still survived 
in the public restaurants of to-day, as the use of the 
present forks in such places is one of the minor trials 
of daily life. 

Mrs. Papendick's account of the plate and services 


acquired at her marriage gives us an idea of what was 
then thought necessary in this respect. She says, '^ Two 
of our rooms were furnished by her Majesty, and a case 
of plate was also sent by her, which contained cruets, 
saltcellars, candle-sticks, and spoons of different sizes, 
silver forks not being then used. From the Queen came 
also six large and six small knives and forks, to which 
mamma added six more of each, and a carving knife and 
fork. Our tea and coffee set were of common Indian 
china, our dinner service of earthenware, to which, for 
our rank, there was nothing superior, Chelsea porcelain 
and fine India china being only for the wealthy. Pewter 
and Delft ware could also be bad, but were inferior." 
Though Mr. Papendick was attached to the Court, he was 
anything but wealthy. 

Turning to the novels, we find food frequently 
mentioned in Emma, when the little suppers of minced 
chicken and scalloped oysters, so necessary after an early 
dinner, were always provided at the Woodhouses. Poor 
Mr. Woodhouse's feelings on these occasions are mixed. 
** He loved to have the cloth laid because it had been the 
fashion of his youth ; but his conviction of suppers being 
very unwholesome, made him rather sorry to see any- 
thing put upon it ; and while his hospitality would have 
welcomed his visitors to everything, his care for their 
health made him grieve that they would eat Such 
another small basin of thin gruel as his own was all that 
he could, with thorough self-approbation, recommend; 
though he might constrain himself, while the ladies were 
comfortably clearing the nicer things, to say — 

" * Mrs. Bates, let me propose your venturing on one 
of these eggs. An egg boiled very soft is not unwhole- 
some. Serle understands boiling an egg better than 
anybody. I would not recommend an egg boiled by 
anyone else, but you need not be afraid, they are very 



small you see— one of our small ^gs will not hurt you. 
Miss Bates, let Emma help you to a little bit of tart — a 
very little bit Ours are all apple tarts. You need not 
be afraid of unwholesome preserves here. I do not advise 
the custard. Mrs. Goddard, what say you to half a 
glass of wine 7 A small half glass put into a tumbler 
of water? I do not think it could disagree with 
you.' " 

Arthur Young, who made a tour through the southern 
counties of England in 1771, gives us carefully tabulated 
facts, from which we learn that the average price for meat 
of all kinds, beef, mutton, veal, and pork, was no more' 
than 3j^d, per pound. Butter was 6^d. per pound, 
and bread a i^d By 1786 we find that '^meat, 
taking one kind with another, was fivepence a pound; 
a fowl ninepence to a shilling ; a quartern loaf fourpence ; 
sugar fourpence a pound ; tea six shillings a pound and 

With these prices it must be remembered that wages 
ruled much lower than at present By 1801, when Jane 
was in Bath, the incessant state of war had raised every- 
thing. She writes : '' I am not without hopes of tempting 
Mrs. Lloyd to settle in Bath; meat is only 8d. per 
pound, butter I2d., and cheese 9^d. You must 
carefully conceal from her, however, the exorbitant 
price for fish ; a salmon has been sold at 2s. pd. per 
\ pound the whole fish." 

In 1800 the price of the quartern loaf was ts. lo^d., 
and then peace was declared. In the preceding ten 
years the scarcity of flour had been so great that all 
sorts of changes were suggested in the making of bread. 
The members of the Privy Council set the example in 
their own households of not eating puddings, or any- 
thing that required flour, excepting the necessary bread, 
which was to be half made of rye. Flour as powder 






for wigs was no more used, being needed for consump- 
tion, and rice was recommended to the poor. 

In 1800, also, was passed the Brown Bread Act, 
forbidding the sale of pure white wheaten bread, or the 
consumption of any sort of bread new, as if it were 
stale it was thought it would go farther. In the seven 
years before 1 800 the prices of not only bread, but meat, 
butter, and sugar, had risen to double what they had been 

With a small household of only three persons, in 
the absence of Cassandra, the ordering at Steventon 
Rectory cannot have occupied much time or thought. 

Though there would possibly be rather more active 
superintendence of the domestics than at present, ladies 
of comfortable means did not then, any more than now, 
spend all their mornings in the kitchen, as is sometimes 
erroneously supposed. Jane would doubtless fill up her 
time with a little practising, a little singing, the re- 
trimming of a hat, correspondence, and the other small 
items that go to make up a country girl's life. In the 
usual avocations of a genteel young lady, " the pianoforte, 
when they were weary of the harp, copying some 
indifferent drawings, gilding a set of flower pots, and 
netting white gloves and veils," we see a tedious inanition 
quite foreign to our conception of Jane. 

Though gardening was not then a hobby, as it is 
now, there would be general superintendence of the 
gardener, and many a lingering walk by the borders and 
flower-beds on sunny mornings. Jane evidently loved 
flowers, as she often refers to them in her letters. 

" Hacker has been here to-day, putting in the fruit 
trees. A new plan has been suggested concerning the 
plantation of the new enclosures on the right-hand side 
of the elm walk ; the doubt is whether it would be better 
to make a little orchard of it by planting apples, pears. 


and cherries, or whether larch, mountain ash, and 

There was at this time a reaction against the stiff 
and formal gardening which had been in fashion since 
introduced by William IIL ^ It is from wild and un- 
cultivated woods, that is from pure nature, that the 
present (1772) English have borrowed their models in 
gardening • . • daisies and violets irregularly scattered form 
the borders of them. These flowers are succeeded by 
dwarf trees, such as rose buds, myrtle, Spanish broom, 
etc." (Grosley.) 

M. Grosley also speaks of wages for gardeners being 

very high : " I have myself seen a spot of ground, not 

exceeding an acre, occupied partly by a small house, 

/ partly by gravel walks, with two beds of flowers, where 

the gardener, who was lodging in the house, had a 

V salary of twelve guineas a year." 

Wages for all classes were, as has been said, much 
lower than now; in regard to this question the cry 
of a "Constant Reader" to TAe Times in 1795 is 
amusing — 

"Tell a servant now, in the mildest manner, they 
have not done their work to please you, and you are 
told to provide for yourself, and, should you offer to 
speak again, they are gone. ... I look upon their 
exorbitant increase of wages as chiefly conducive to their 
impertinence ; for when they had five or six pounds a 
year, a month being out of place was severely felt ; but 
now their wages are doubled, they have in great measure 
lost their dependence. And what is this increase of 
wages for ? Not in order to lay by a little in case of 
sickness, but to squander in dress. No young woman 
now can bear a strong pair of leather shoes, but they 
must wear Spanish leather, and so on in every article 
of dress." 


By Aitiuir Young's account wages wcfc less even 
tban above, he says that dairymaids received an average 
of £it I2S. yeaxiy, and other maids jf3» 6& Prices 
possibly varied in diflferent places, being hi|^ier in London 
where labour was scarcer. ^ Wages are very considerable 
... a fat Welsh girl who has just come out of the 
country, scarce understood a word of English, capable 
of nothing but washing, scouring, and sweeping the 
rooms • . . [received] six guineas a year, besides a \ 
guinea a year for her tea, which all servant maids 
either take in money, or have it found for them twice / 
a day. The wages of a cook maid who knows how . 
to roast and boil amount to twenty guineas a year.*' 

When the household details had been attended to, 
the members of the Austen family must sometimes have 
walked in the rough lanes. In order to avoid the mud 
in winter or wet weather, ladies wore pattens, which had 
an iron ring underneath and raised the foot, these pattens 
clinked as they walked, and must have been very bad in 
causing an awkward drag in the gait. But country 
lane walking was not greatly in favour then, women's 
gowns, with long clinging skirts, were not adapted for 
such promenades, and it is amusing to think how sur- 
prised either Jane or Cassandra would have been could 
they have met a modem tailor-made girl, with gaiters, 
and comfortable, trim short skirt well clearing the 

Though visiting the poor was not a regular duty, it 
is evident from many indications that the girls took 
pleasure in knowing the parishioners, and they must 
have been to see them occasionally. 

The life of labourers was at that time extremely 
dull, and it is little to be wondered at that they were 
rough boors when they were left entirely without 


reasonable means of recreation, and without any mental 
nourishment The public-house was often the working- 
man's sole chance of relaxation. Very few could read 
or write ; in the long winter evenings there was nothing 
for them to do but to sit in a draughty cottage over a 
small wood-fire, without any of the luxuries that are now 
considered necessaries in every labourer's cottage; The 
interiors resembled a Highland crofter's hut, with beaten 
earth flooring, often damp ; rough uncovered walls^^ no 
gay prints, or polished furniture. The introduction of 
machinery has in this case, as in so many others, 
altered the entire aspect of Ufa When sofa legs can be 
turned out by the hundred by a machine for little cost, 
everyone can afford sofas ; when the process of reproduc- 
tion of pictures is reduced to a minimum, every wall is 
adorned Even the woven quilts and patterned chair- 
covers, now so little thought of as to be hardly noticed, 
were then unknown; plain dyes for materials were all 
that could be had. 

Though probably Cowper's dismal picture is an 
extreme case, it has the merit of being contemporary — 


The frogal housewife trembles when she lights 
Her scanty stock of brushwood, blazing clear, 
But dying soon like all terrestrial joys. 

. . • The blown loaf 
Lodged on the shelf, half eaten without sauce 
Of savoury cheese, or butter costlier stiU. 

. • . All the care 
Ingenious parsimony takes but just 

Saves the small inventory, bed and stool. 

Skillet and old carved chest, from public sale. 



But to set against this we have the idyllic pictures 
of cottage life to be found amid the works of Morland 
and his confrires^ One of these, engraved by Grozer, is 


given as an illustration. Here, though the cottage is 
low and dark, with thatched roof and small windows, the 
healthy, smiling faces of the cottagers themselves are very 
attractive. The truth probably lay in the mean between 
Cowper's realism and the artisfs idealism, health and 
good temper may have been found even amid dirt 
and squalor. 

At that time the state of the roads cut off the 
dweller in a small village from any neighbouring town. 
At present the three or four miles of good solid 
road in and out of a provincial town are nothing to a 
young man who starts off after his work on Saturday 
evenings, and in many cases he has a bicycle with which 
to run over them more easily still. At that time the 
roads, even main roads, were in a filthy state ; the Act 
of 1 775, by making turnpike roads compulsory, did much 
to improve them, but previously th^ were often mere 
quagmires with deep ruts, similar to the roads running 
by the side of a field where carting has been going on. 
Many and many a record is there of the coaches being 
stuck or overturned in the heavy mud. 

The days of village merry-making and sociability 
seemed to have passed away in Puritan times never to 
revive, and had not been replaced by the personal 
pleasures of the present time. A labourer of Jane 
Austen's days had the bad luck to live in a sort of 
intermediate time. Not for him the reading-room with 
its bright light and warm fire, the concert, the club, and 
the penny readings, the smooth-running bicycle or the 
piano. Here is Horace Walpole's picture of suburban 
felicity: "The road was one string of stage coaches 
loaded within and without with noisy jolly folks, and 
chaises and gigs that had been pleasuring in clouds of 
dust; every door and every window of every house 
was open, lights in every shop, every door with women 


sitting in the street, every inn crowded with drunken 
topers; for you know the English always announce 
their sense of heat or cold by drinking. Well 1 It was 
impossible not to enjoy such a scene of happiness and 
affluence in every village, and amongst the lowest of 
the people; who are told by villainous scribblers that 
they are oppressed and miserable." 

Wages for labourers, as in the case of servants, were 
very low. Arthur Young gives an interesting digest of 
the wages then in vogue in the southern counties. He 
divides the year into three parts : harvest, five weeks ; hay- 
time, six weeks ; and winter, f6rty-one weeks ; the average 
of weekly wages for these three respective periods was 
1 3s. id., 9s. I id., and 7s. i id., making a weekly medium 
of about 8s. 8d. all the year round. The writer is very 
severe on the labourers for what he considers their 
gross extravagance in the matter of tea and sugar, indeed 
his remarks sound so queer to our ears now that they 
are worth quoting at some length — 

^ All united in the assertion that the practice [of 
having tea and sugar] twice a day was constant, and that 
it was inconceivable how much it impoverished the poor. 
This is no matter of trivial consequence; no transitory 
or local evil ; it is universal and unceasing ; the amount 
of it is great . . . this single article cost numerous 
famiilies more than sufficient to remove their real 
distresses, which they will submit to rather than lay 
aside their tea. And an object, seemingly, of little 
account, but in reality of infinite importance, is the 
custom, coming in, of men making tea an article of 
their food, almost as much as women ; labourers losing 
their time to come and go to the tea table ; nay, farmers' 
servants even demanding tea for their breakfast, with the 
maids 1 Which has actually been the case in East Kent. 
If the men come to lose as much of their time at tea as 


the women, and injure their health by so bad a beverage, 
the poor, in general, will find themselves far more dis- 
tressed than ever. Wants, I allow, are numerous, but 
what name are we to give to those that are voluntarily 
embraced in order for indulgence in tea and sugar ? . . . 
There is no clearer fact than that two persons, the wife 
and one daughter for instance, drinking tea once a day 
amounts, in a year, to a fourth of the price of all the 
wheat consumed by a family of five persons; twice a 
day are half; so that those who leave off two tea 
drinkings can afford to eat wheat at double the price 
(calculated at six shillings a bushel)." 

Tea was, of course, then very expensive. Lady 
Newdigate writes to her husband in 1781, ** I enclose 
Mr. Barton's account for tea, the sum frights one, but 
if the common tea runs — as Mr. B. says it does — near 
eighty pounds the chest, it will answer well. The best 
is full 1 6s. a pound, but Mundays and Newdigates 
who have also a lot and have also had from the 
shops since the new tax was laid, say it is better than 
what you can buy for 1 8s.*' {The Cheverels of Ckeverel 

Besides other occupations, such as have been slightly 
indicated, there was one in Jane's life about which she 
seldom spoke to anyone; from her earliest childhood 
the instinct to write had been in her, and she had 
scribbled probably in secret. Such a thing would not 
be encouraged in a child of her time. Nowadays, 
when every little Rosina and Clarence has a page to 
themselves in the weekly papers, and can see her or 
his own childish effusions in print, winning thereby the 
proud and admiring commendations of mother and 
father, the case is different; Jane wrote because she 
had to write, it was there and it must come out, but 
she probably looked on her writing as something to 


be ashamed of, a waste of time, and only read her 
compositions to her brothers and sisters under compulsion 
when no adults were present Mr. Austen-Ldgh says, 
** It is impossible to say at how early an age she began 
to write. There are copy books extant containing 
tales, some of which must have been composed while 
she was a young girl, as they had amounted to .a con- 
siderable number by the time she was sixteen. Her 
earliest stories are of a slight and flimsy texture, and 
are generally intended to be nonsensical, but the 
nonsense has much spirit in it" 

He gives as an instance *'The Mystery, a short 
unfinished Comedy." He says later, *' But between 
these childish effusions and the composition of her 
living works, there intervened another stage of her 
progress, during which she produced some stories, not 
without merit, but which she never deemed worthy of 

It was one of these, at first called Elinor and 
Marianne^ which became the germ of Sense and 
Sensibility^ and perhaps from these early stories she 
might, had she lived, have developed and produced 
other books. 

The beautiful old town of Winchester, once the 
capital of the kingdom, lies only twelve miles from 
Steventon, and though there was no smooth, hard high- 
road as we know it, the Austens' carriage horses were 
probably stoutly-built animals who pulled their load 
through the mire with right goodwill. Many an ex- 
pedition to the town must Jane have made, and well 
would she know the ancient part by the Cathedral and 
College, so little altered now that we may look upon 
it with her eyes. / The red walls, with their garnishing 
of lichen and ferns, the beautiful nooks and sunny 
comers, would all be very familiar to her ; and in these 


hapgy digs, lAen die ms stni 4 UglibiiMit^d (fiA 
wjgSboat m Aoq^ of &iiie, bcm Kttle would «th« think 
diat cnc day de sbonld pft» awaiy cl^e to th« oM 
gR^ Caftedxal, wUdi itsdf sbould form h^ biirUI- 
pboc^ and ^wSndi would he visited on th^t Accoimt hy 
Inndreds yet anbom, who knew her only in hef bookn. 



THE life of a genius is, after all, secondary to the 
works by which he lives ; no one would want to 
know anything about him had not the works aroused 
their interest. The personality when revealed is oft- 
times disappointing, sometimes repulsive, but that 
cannot alter the value of the work. There is certainly 
no fear that we shall find anything repulsive in the 
simple life of Jane Austen, or that we shall be dis- 
appointed in knowing her as she was, but for all that 
the works are the thing. 

One writer on Jane Austen, in what purports to be 
a book, has devoted three hundred and thirty-two pages 
out of three hundred and eighty-six to a synopsis of 
the plots of the novels, told in bald and commonplace 
language, without any of the sparkle of the original, 
so that even the extracts embedded in such a context 
seem flat and uninteresting. This sort of book-making 
is worse than useless, it is positively harmful. Anyone 
who read the volume before reading the original novels 
would assuredly never go to them after having seen 
them flattened out in this style. There is no place for 
such a book ; anyone who is interested in Jane Austen 
at all should read her works as they. are. There can be 
no excuse on the ground of length, the longest, Emma, 
runs to four hundred and thirty-six pages of clear type 


THE N0VEI5 8l 

in duodecimo form. For the publication of an abridged 
form of Richardson's works, there might be excuse; 
anyone who read such an abridgement might be 
forgiven, for Richardson's masterpiece filled seven 
volumes 1 But with Jane Austen there is nothing to 
abridge, every sentence tells, there is no prolixity, every 
word has its intrinsic value, and to retell her sparkling 
little stories in commonplace language is indeed to 
attempt the painting of the rose. 

This book, at all events, is intended only for those 
who know the novels at first hand, and there shall be 
no explaining, no pandering to that laziness that prefers 
hash to joints. Taking it for granted that everyone 
knows the six complete novels, we enter here on a 
discussion of the excellencies common to all, leaving 
them to be discussed singly as they occur chrono- 
logically in the life of their author. The first question 
that occurs to anyone in this connection is, how is it 
that these books, ^*^\\t p^^ witlioi(|.j|||piUiMMi9 
without daubU entendre^ have managed to entrance 
generations of readers, and to be as much alive to-day 
as when they were written ? The answer is simple and ^ 
comprehensive, — they are of human nature all compac^ 
This is the first and greatest quality. "We kave in AmJ 
ho heroes and heroines, no villains, but only men and! 
women ; and while the world lasts stories of real live flesh-' 
and^blood characters .will hold their own. The second* 
characteristic, which is the salt of fiction, is the keenX 
sense of humour that runs throughout. Jane Austen's^ 
observation of the foibles of her fellow-creatures was/^ 
unusually sharp, her remarks in her letters are not 
always kind, but in the novels this sharp and keen y 
relish of what is absurd is softened down so as to be "^ 
nowhere offensive. Irfkc ^^^ ftwn ^^ill>^bp^^, ^rhf "^'g!j*^ 

say, ** I , hope I^ never ridicule what is wise or ^ood. 

6 ------ 



■*ollies. a nd nonse n se, whims anH inmnvy^^*'"'*"*^j ^^ 
divert niQ^. I omu. j^nd I laugh, at. thegL^mrhpnever 

^ I Jai" 
\y^ A third characteristic, which is the result of genius 
/ if alone, is her dainty sens^ of selection. She never gives 
|\ anything redundant either in the actions or words of 
I 1 her characters, just enough is said or done to reveal the 
y people themselves to us. One has only to think of 
\ writers deficient in this quality to realise how essential 
it is to enjoyment. In Miss Ferrier's Marriage^ for 
instance, there are good and striking scenes, but in her 
conversations she never knows when to stop, the tedious 
long-winded sentences have to be skipped in order to 
get on with the story. The art of selection is that 
which distinguishes real dramatic talent from photo- 
graphic realism. To be able to put down on paper 
exactly what average people say is certainly a gift, for 

(few can do it, but a far higher gift is to select and 
combine just those speeches and actions which give 
the desired effect without leaving any sense of omission 
or incompleteness. Jane Austen had the power also of 
giving a flash of insight into a state of mind or a 
personal feeling in a few words more than any writer 
before or since. It is on^ of her strongest points. 
Take for example that scene when Henry Tilney 
instructing Catherine ''talked of foregrounds, distances^ 
and second distances ; side screens and perspectives ; 
lights and shades; and Catherine was so hopeful a 
scholar, that when they gained the top of Beechen ClifT, 
she voluntarily rejected the whole city of Bath as un- 
worthy to make part of the landscape " ; or the opening 
sentences of Mansfield Park, '' Miss Maria Ward of 
Huntingdon, with only seven thousand pounds, had the 
good luck to captivate Sir Thomas Bertram of Mansfield 
Park, in the county of Northampton, and to be thereby 

m ^ 

fatsed to the lank of a haro nefs bdf, with all tfe 
comfiorts and amseqaeoces of a handsnmr hoase and 
large inmniP'. All Himtii^dcMi cxdaioied on the great- 
ness of the match ; and her ancle, the lavycr, iiiwix^lf 
allowed her to beat least thiee thoosand pounds short 
of an7 equitable daim to iL* 

It b by tnnrhrs socfa as these that the diaiacters 
aie made to live befbie iis» Jane never condescends to the 
devke of tridcs adiidi Dickens allowed tiimq^lf to use 
with sodi wearisome iteration ; we have none of " the 
moustache went op and the nose came down* style. 
It is by a perfect perspective, by lig^t touches given 
with admirable eflect, that we know the difference 
between Fanny Price and Anne EUiot, both good, 
sweet, retiring girls ; or between Elinor Dashwood and 
Emma Woodhonse, who both had the generosity of 
character to sympathise with another's love affairs while 
hiding their own. Henry Tilney and Edmund Crawford 
were both young clergymen of a priggish type, but 
Henry's didactic refiections are not in the least the 
same as those which Edmund would have uttered. 

The silliness of Mrs. Palmer, with her final summary 
on the recreant Willoughby, "She was determined to 
drop his acquaintance immediately, and she was very 
thankful she had never been acquainted Mrith him at all. 
She wished with all her heart Combe Magna was not 
so near Cleveland, but it did not signify for it was a 
great deal too far off to visit ; she hated him so much 
that she was resolved never to mention his name again, 
and she should tell everyone she saw how good for 
nothing he was," is entirely different from the continuous 
weak outpourings of poor little Miss Bates.' "And 
when I brought out the baked apples from the closet, 
and hoped our friends would be so very obliging as to 
take some, 'Oh,' said he directly, 'there is nothing 



in the way of fruit half so good, and these are the finest 
looking home-baked apples I ever saw in my life.' 
That, you know, was so very — And I am sure by his 
manner it was no compliment. Indeed, they are very 
delightful apples, and Mrs. Wallis does them full justice, 
only we do not have them baked more than twice, and 
Mr. Woodhouse made us promise to have them done 
three times; but Miss Woodhouse will be so good as 
not to mention it The apples themselves are the very 
finest sort for baking beyond a doubt — ^ and so on and 
so on for a page or more. 

The truth is that Jane Austen seized on qualities 
which are frequently found in human nature, and 
developed them with such fidelity that nearly all of 
us feel that we have at one time or another met a 
Miss Bates or a Mrs. Norris, or that we can see traits 
in others which resemble theirs ; it is this which makes 
the appeal to all humanity. She did not take one 
person out of her acquaintance and depict him or her, 
but represented, in characters of her own creating, 
these salient traits which will ever revive perennially 
while men and women exist 

Lord Macaulay does not hesitate to speak of Jane 
in the same breath with Shakespeare. ^Shakespeare 
has had neither equal nor second, but among the 
writers who have approached nearest to the manner 
of the great Master, we have no hesitation in placing 
Jane Austen, a woman of whom England is justly 
proud. She has given us a multitude of characters, 
all, in a certain sense, commonplace, all su6h as we 
meet every day, yet they are all as perfectly dis- 
criminated from each other as if they were the most 
eccentric of human beings.'' And Archbishop Whateley 
makes the suggestive remark, '' It is no fool that can 
describe fools well." 


Before the birth of Jane Austen, the novel, which had 
been hardly considered in England for many centuries, 
had suddenly found a quartette of exponents which had 
placed the country in the foremost rank of this branch. 

It b rare indeed that four such men as Richardson, 
Fielding, Smollett, and Sterne, with powers of imagin- 
ation which make their work classic, should be evolved 
at the same date. It would almost seem as if the 
theory which declares that the world, in its onward 
rush through space, passes through regions impregnated 
with certain forms of ether that affect men's minds, 
must have some grain of truth, when simultaneously 
there leaped forth four exponents and first masters of 
an art that hitherto can hardly have been said to 
exist. The united scope of their four lives ranged 
from 1689 to 1 77 1, and between these dates England 
was enriched for all time. 

With these four Jane Austen's work has little in 
common. It is to Richardson only that her novels 
owe anything, and they differ from Richardson's in 
many striking particulars. 

Apart from the masters already mentioned, '' A 
greater mass of trash and rubbish never disgraced the 
press of any country than the ordinary novels that 
filled and supported circulating libraries down nearly 
to the time of Miss Edgeworth's first appearance. 
There had been The Vicar of Wakefield^ to be sure, 
before, and Miss Bume3^s Evelina and CecUia^ and 
Mackenzie's Man of Feelings and some bolder and 
more varied fictions of the Misses Lee. But the 
staple of our novel market was beyond imagination 
despicable, and had consequently sunk and degraded 
the whole department of literature of which it had 
usurped the name." (Jeffrey, Essays, Ed. 1853.) 

And Macaulay says : '' Most of the popular novels 



which preceded Evelina were such as no lady would 
have written, and many of them were such as no 
lady could without confusion own that she had read. 
The very name of novel was held in horror among 
religious people. In decent families which did not 
profess extraordinary sanctity, there was a strong 
feeling against all such works. Sir Anthony Absolute, 
two or three years before Evelina appeared, spoke the 
sense of the great body of sober fathers and husbands, 
when he pronounced the circulating library an ever- 
green tree of diabolical knowledge. This feeling on 
the part of the grave and reflecting, increased the 
evil from which it had sprung. The novelist, having 
little character to lose, and having few readers among 
serious people, took, without scruple, liberties which, 
in our generation, seem almost incredible." 

The effect that Miss Bume3^s stories had upon 
\ contemporary readers may be judged from a letter of 
/ Mr. Twining, a country clergyman of education and 
standing, who wrote in 1782 to her father. Dr. Bumqr: 
,' '' I need not tell you that I gobbled up Cecilia as soon 
\ as I could get it from my library. I never knew such 
I a piece of work made with a book in my life. It has 
i drawn iron tears down cheeks that were never wetted 
j with pity before ; it has made novel readers of callous 
! old maiden ladies, who have not for years received 
pleasure from anything but scandal. Judge, then, 
what effect it has had upon the young and the tender 
hearted! I know two amiable sisters at Colchester, 
sensible and accomplished women, who were found 
blubbering at such a rate one morning 1 The tale 
had drawn them on till near the hour of an engage- 
ment to dinner, which they were actually obliged to 
put off, because there was not time to recover their 
red cyts and swelled noses." 


Miss Barney's works are real enough, and not 
lightly to be dismissed; she understood the human 
heart, and especially the heart of a girl, her sentimental 
side is perfect, but beyond that she ceases to claim 
anything out of the common. Her society types are 
types only ; the gay young man, a rake, but charming 
at heart, whose excesses were but the wildness of an 
ill-brought-up youth, had been drawn many times before. 
When she goes beyond affairs of the heart she at once 
caricatures ; her Captain and Mrs. Duval are gross and 
overdrawn even according to the manners of the age. 

Miss Bumey preceded Jane Austen by several years; 
Evelina was published in 1778, when the sister-author 
was but three years old; Cecilia came out four years 
later, and Camilla in 1796, the same year in whidi 
Pride and Prejudice was written, though it was not 
published until 181 3. There is no doubt that Jane 
Austen owed much to her rival and predecessor, but 
her gifts were incomparably the greater. Miss Burney's 
cleverness consisted in the portrayal of feeling in a 
young girl's sensitive mind, her stories are stories of 
fashion and incident ; Jane Austen's are of country life, 
and simple everyday scenes. The one had its vogue, 
and, as an account of contemporary manners, the books 
have their value and delight now, especially Evelina, 
which stands high above its successors, each one of 
which is poorer than the preceding one; but none are 
to be compared with any of Jane Austen's novels, 
which are for all time. 

*' Miss Edgeworth indeed draws characters and 
details conversations such as occur in real life with 
a spirit of fidelity not to be surpassed ; but her stories 
are most romantically improbable, all the important 
events in them being brought about by most providential 
coincidences." (Archbishop Whateley.) 


It was a transition age from the conventional to 

the natural; as in the admiration of landscape, the 

love for natural gardens, the gradual disappearance of 

the formal and empty compliment to which women 

had hitherto been treated, we find taste changing, so 

in literature the conventional was giving way to the 

^natural Fielding and Smollett had broken down the 

barriers in this respect, they had depicted life as it 

was, not as convention had decreed it should be, 

hence their gigantic success; but the life they saw 

and rendered was the life of a man of the world, 

r'^'^th all its roughness and brutality. Jane Austen 

I was the first to draw exactly what she saw around 

I her in a humdrum country life, and to discard all 

/ incident, all adventure, all grotesque types, for perfect 

..^mplicity. She little understood what she was doing, 

but herein lies her wonderful power, she was a pioneer. 

Jane's writing had nothing in common with Mrs. 

Radcliife, whose style is mimicked in Northanger 

Abbey. It had absolutely no adventures. The fall 

of Louisa on the Cobb is perhaps the most thrilling 

episode in all the books, yet by virtue of its entire 

simplicity, its naturalness, its gaiety, her writing never 

fails to interest. Perhaps the most remarkable tribute 

to her genius lies in the fact that, though her bodes 

are simplicity itself, dealing with the love-stories of 

artless girls, they are read and admired not only by 

girls and women, but more especially by men of 

exceptional mental calibre. It has been said that 

y the appreciation of them is a test of intellect 

^ ^ Though her novels are novels of sentiment, they 

I never drift into sickly sentiment, they are wholesome 

I and healthy throughout With tragedy she had nothing 

I to do ; her work is comedy, pure comedy from begtnning 

* to end. And as comedies well done are the most 


recreative of all forms of reading, it is no wonder that, 
slight as are her plots, hardly to be considered, minnte 
as are the incidents, the attention of readers should evec^ s/^ 
be kept alive. In all her books marriage is the supreme 1 
end ; the meeting, the obstacles, the gradual surmount- 1 
ing of these, and the happy ending occur with the\ 
regularity of clockwork. And yet each one differs from 
all the others, and she is never monotonous. Every 
single book ends well, and it is a striking fact that there 
is not a death in one of them. When, after a slight 
improvement, Marianne, in Sense and Sensibility^ grows 

^ The repose of the latter [Marianne] grew more and 
more disturbed; and her sister who watched with 
unremitting attention her continual change of posture, 
and heard the frequent but inarticulate sounds of com- 
plaint which passed her lips, was most wishing to rouse 
her from so painful a slumber, when Marianne, awakened 
by some accidental noise in the house, started hastily 
up, and, with feverish wildness cried out, 'Is mamma 
coming ? ' . . . Hour after hour passed away in sleepless 
pain and delirium on Marianne's side, and in the most 
cruel anxiety on Elinor^s,** we know that in most books 
we should expect the worst, but with Jane Austen we are 
sure that it will all turn out well, as indeed it does, and 
our feelings arc not unduly harrowed. / 

One point which is obvious in all the books is the 
utter lack of conversation, except about the merest 
trivialities, among women. In Sense and Sensibility it 
is remarked of a dinner given by John Dashwood that 
"no poverty of any kmd, except of conversation, 
appeared. • • • When the ladies withdrew to the 
drawing-room after dinner, this poverty was particularly 
evident, for the gentlemen had supplied the discourse 
with some variety — the variety of politicsy enclosing 


land, and breaking horses — ^but then it was all over, and 
one subject only engaged the ladies till coffee came in, 
which was the comparative height of Harry Dashwood, 
and Lady Middleton's second 3on, William, who were 
nearly of the same age . . . the two mothers though 
each really convinced that her own son was the taller, 
politely decided in favour of the other. The two grand- 
mothers with not less partiality, but more sincerity, were 
equally earnest in support of their own descendant." 

^^he Christian names of that date were plain, and, 
for women, strictly limited in number ; it detracts some- 
thing from a heroine to be called Fanny Price or Anne 
Elliot; and Emma Woodhouse "and Elizabeth Bennet 
are little better; Elinor and Marianne Dash wood are 
the most fancy names applied by Jane to any of her 

Another point which may be noticed in the novels 

is that the outward forms of religion, beyond the fact of 

a man's being a clergyman, are never mentioned, and 

that on all religious matters Jane is silent ; but this does 

not signify that she was not herself truly religious at 

heart, for we have the testimony of those who knew her 

to the contrary, particularly that of her brother Henry 

J in his preface prefixed to the first edition of Northanger 

^iAMey^ published after her death. But though actual 

ireligion does ndt appear in her pages, the lessons that 

Ithe books teach are none the less enforced; had she 

Deen taking for her sole text the merit of unselfishness, 

she could not have done more, or indeed half so much, 

to further the spread of that virtue. To read the books 

straight through one after the other is to feel the petty 

meanness of self-striving, and the small gain that lies 

therein. The talk of the mammas, such as Mrs. Bennet, 

who are perfectly incapable of seeing their neighbours' 

interest should it clash with their own; the picture of 


the egr^ous Mrs. Norris with her grasping at the 
aspect of generosity and self-sacrifice, without any 
intention of putting herself to any inconvenience thereby ; 
the weakness of such characters as Willoughby in Sense 
and Sensibility, who allow themselves to drift along the 
lines of least resistance without a thought of the after 
misery they may cause : each and all of these are more 
potent than a volume of sermons. • 

It may be noted that Jane Austen diose heA 
characters from tile class of Mfe in triaeh she hmemU 
lived, we meet in her pages no dukes or duchesses, and 
only a few slightly sketched labourers and gardeners, / 
who are brought in when inevitable; tiie^jJtpiyJJafilf.iaLl *^ 
cong erned with^eople of the middle cl9S3^^ the .squires I 
and country gentlemen, the clergymen^ and upper-cla9S I 
"^osperous tradespeople. We have no inimitable rustics 
as iiTGeorge Eliot's wonderful books, nor any disreput- 
able knaves of the fashionable rich as in Miss Burne/s 
works. It is, however, a remarkable fact that all the 
mankind are always at leisure to picnic and dance ^ 
attendance on the ladies at any hour of the day ; we ^ 
have no business men ; rides and excursions and picnics 
are always provided with a full complement of idle young 
men to match the young women. To this rule the 
clergymen are, of course, no exception. 

There was a particular sort of country gentleman 
who seemed to flourish in those days, of the type of Mr. 
Knightley and Mr. Bennet These men did not own 
enough land to call themselves squires, their farming 
was very slight, they owned a secure fortune in some 
safe investment, and apparently spent their lives in the 
insipid avocations which, until recently, were the lot ot 
nearly all men who were neither rich nor poor. They 
played cards, and rode and saw their neighbours, and 
read the newspapers, without seeming to feel their time 


hang at all heavy on their hands. This breed seems 
almost extinct now, we are all too excitable, and live 
too rapidly to make it possible. A man with such an 
income as either of the two mentioned would almost 
certainly travel, or take up some special hobby; he 
would be a social reformer, or on his County Council, a 
J.P., a M.F.H., or something of the kind, with occupa* 
tions varied enough to afford him some apology for his 

The lowest of what may be called Jane Austen's 
speaking parts are filled by well-to-do tradesmen, or 
people just emerging from trade, as the Gardeners in 
Pride and Prejudice^ who still lived at the business house 
in Gracechurch Street; for it was a time when house 
and shop were not divided. 

Her characters are lH il[ittiiiwnl ^ -te gMHeSI^. 
but there is a difference between those who are of better 
family than others, such as Bingley, who condescends in 
mar r y ing Jane Bennet There is one point on which I 
venture to disagree with Mr. Pollock, who, in his extremely 
suggestive and interesting book on Jane Austen and ker 
Contemporaries^ says — 

^ Comment has been made, and justly made, on the 
perfect breeding and manners of those people in Miss 
Austen's novels who are supposed and intended to be 

On the contrary, to go no further that Pride and 
Prejudice^ Darcy himself passes every canon of gentle- 
manly conduct, and the Misses Bingley, who were 
supposed to be of irreproachable breeding, betray 
vulgarity and lack of courtesy in every sentence. The 
observations of Miss Bingley on Elizabeth and Darcy 
would disgrace a kitchen-maid. When Darcy has 
danced once with Elizabeth, Miss Bingley draws near 
to him, and observes of the society she is in — 


" ' You are considering how insupportable it would be 
to pass many evenings in this manner — in this society, 
and indeed I am quite of your opinion. I never was 
more annoyed. The insipidity and yet the noise — ^the 
nothingness and yet the self-importance of all these 
people ! What would I give to hear your strictures on 

''^Your conjecture is totally wrong, I assure you. 
My mind was more agreeably engaged. I have been 
meditating on the very great pleasure which a pair of 
fine eyes in the face of a pretty woman can bestow 1 ' 

''Miss Bingley immediately fixed her eyes on his 
face, and desired he would tell her what lady had the 
credit of inspiring such reflections. Mr. Darcy replied 
with great intrepidity, ' Miss Elizabeth Bennet ! ' 

'''Miss Elizabeth Bennet!' repeated Miss Bingley, 
' I am all astonishment How long has she been such 
a favourite ? And pray when am I to wish you joy ? ' 

"'That is exactly the question which I expected 
you to ask. A lady's imagination is very rapid; it 
jumps from admiration to love, from love to matrimony 
in a moment. I knew you would be wishing me joy.' 

" ' Nay, if you are so serious about it, I shall consider 
the matter as absolutely settled. You will have a 
charming mother-in-law indeed, and of course she will 
always be at Pemberley with you.' " 

The insolence of Lady Catherine de Bourgh might 
be adduced as a second example from the same book. 
These people are well bom and well bred, but their 
manners and conduct are impossible. It may be alleged 
that they were intended so to be. Probably ; but that 
does not do away with the fact that the well-bred 
people in the books are not always free from vulgarity, 
which was the contention with which we started. They 
might have been made disagreeable in a hundred other 


\:3»^ ^^Vtfcsr 5c r?wrr>, wxAont violating all 

sbcmld be finee from 
1^ wiusMt A i: Vf A'^ ihss uicy e m gesKation hardly 
Tmhff Ivvi vi^ ir;^ ^^uintsnanced in ibc days of the 
Ci«)(«;«!ss^ . wsl. cutset, ibiks i: ur £iigtaaid tint males of 
Hue imr di^t. nin. sr ^ha: ^i^ heir to die tiinme was a 
jTsrVchluv tor durii^ hsr Icmj: Teun^ tbe cxamtde which 

s«SL m£ whi:^ the inferiors were qmck to copy, 
m«» itteRsd idtc^jvcsber. Geor^ tbe Hard himself who 
^ccnpN^ ^te tfamne during tlie wiiolte of Jane Austen's 
iikk 'vcK^ ^ iaqOT^ ta r cqt tion amoi^ tlie Hanoverian 
9SM«rr4S!ft^ )«it die excesses of his sons were notorious. 

£TC3i die I>uke of Rent, tiie best of them, accepts 
it )cft4«i;:>3$<l iuSa:noe as inevitable, to say nothing of 
^XNt^i^ 1b ^inn»is &miSaify to Mr. Creevey after the 
d»^x^ c^"^ IVr^vtJSSi Ckariotte, he says — 

♦TV^ I>uJ» of Claience, I have no doubt, will 
iMny u W «n — he demands the payment of all his 
dci^x^ whk^ are very greati and a handsome provision 
for Ki$ t««^ natural children — God only knows the 
$;acrinc^ U mill be to make, whenever I shall think it my 
duty to become a married man. It is now seven and 
twenty y^ar$ that Madame St Laurent and I have lived 
together; we are of tiie same age, have been in all 
climates and all diflBculties together, and you may well 
imagine, Mr* Creevey, the pang it will be to part with 
her." (Tki Cmpey Correspondence.) 

The irregular unions of princes of the blood are 
unfortunately an accepted fact, but the epoch in which 
such things were done in broad daylight was one in 
which libertinism of all kinds was rampant It was an 
age aUo of excessive drunkenness, the Prince Regent 



frequently appeared in public hardly able to stand, 
Creevey records that the prince " drank so much as to 
be made very seriously ill by it " ; he says also, as if It 
were a thing to wonder at, ''It is reckoned very 
disgraceful in Russia for the higher orders to be drunk/' 

The books of Smollett and Fielding had inculcated 
the general belief that indecency and interest in a novel 
were inseparable, and it is greatly to the credit of Miss 
Bumey and Miss Austen that their writings were of an 
entirely different tone. 

Sir Walter Besant writes : '' I do not wish to represent 
the eighteenth century as much worse than our own In 
the matter of what is called morality, meaning one kind 
of morality. The ' great ' were allowed to be above the 
ordinary restraints of morality. A certain noble lord 
travelled with a harem of eight, which was, however, con* 
sidered scandalous." {London in the EighUenth Century^ \ 

No whisper of these things stains Jane Austen'y 
pages. And her clear, unaffected view of middle'ClassT 
life in small towns and villages was true and not idealJ 
ised, for these people were then, as they still are, tha 
salt of the world, neither apeing the fantastic vices of 
the upper, nor the abandoned coarseness of the lowMi 
classes. They were respectable and sometimes hum'^^ 
drum. They suffered from monotony, not dissipation* 
That anyone should have been able to extract so much 
pure fim from such slight materials is ever matter for 
wonder. She did it by her marvelk>usly close observa* 
tkm and powo* of selection, qualities which are a gift 
She was far more true to human nature than the super' 
fidal reader knows, perhs^ than she herself knew, for it 
is a trait of genius to do by the lig^t of nature what 
other people most set about laboriously and ever fall 
short of attatntng. When we notice Mn Bennetts 
caustic humour r e app e aring in mote genial form m bis 



second daughter, there is one of those little touches that 
binds the characters together — ^the touch of heredity. 

Another instance is in the case of Lady Middletoh, 
who obviously had not married either for love or for 
suitability, but only for convenience; she is a cold 
woman, incapable of passion in the usual sense, but her 
nature breaks out in an adoration of her children which 
is neither for their benefit nor for hers. We see this 
again and again in real life; it is the cold, unloving 
wives who idolise their children because they are 
theirs, a feeling which is not real love but a kind of 
extended selfishness, an instinct which, in the case of 
animals, finds expression in licking their jroung. 
The books abound in similar true touches, put in 
apparently without effort, and almost without thought 
When one considers that out of the mass of novels of 
that age, then, as now, circulated and read by the aid 
of libraries, such books as Hannah More's Coslebs in 
Search of a Wife and Mackenzie's Man of Feeling and 
Man of the World were read and praised almost univers- 
ally as being far superior to the usual run of novels, 
one gains some idea of the poverty of matter and 
manner that must have disgraced the ruck. Both these 
"masterpieces," so acclaimed as they were issued, are 
the dullest, driest stuff, without a gleam of humour, any 
attempt at a story, or any vivacity of expression or 
character. The general style is, " Mr. and Mrs. So-and- 
So are to-day expected. Mr. So-and-So is a pious, 
virtuous man, I am afraid I cannot say so much for his 
wife," and thereupon follows a long verbose description 
of the two, who when they appear on the scene do and 
say nothing to indicate any characteristics, but are mere 
dummies, pegs on which to hang the discourse that 
precedes their entry. A favourite device for filling up 
the pages that must be filled, is the narration by some 


secondary character of all that has ever befallen them 
since their birth. Even Miss Bumey is not free from 
this ; in Cecilia at least the characters break into narration 
as easily as some persons do into song. With this kind 
of stuff to set the standard, the miracle of Jane's books 
becomes more admirable than ever, for anyone who has 
ever attempted to write knows how exceedingly difficult 
it is to resist the influence of the conventional canons 
in vogue. 

Jfane Austen seems to have been also as far ahead of 
her time in the use of simple direct Efif 191^ as she was in 
construction and effect. She is at least a generation in 
advance of average contemporary letters and journals, in 
which the phrasing is often ponderous ; the sonorous roll 
of heavily-weighted sentences in the Johnsonian style, 
then so much admired, does not ever seem to have 
occurred to her. 

Yet even in her lively, crisp narration there are a few 
phrases that strike on a modern ear as unaccustomed. J \ 
Such is the use of the active for the passive tense, " tea I *"^ \ 
was carrying round " ; the elision of the final " n " in the 
infinitive, " but she said he seemed very angry at being 
spoke to"; the use of adjectives for adverbs (often 
reproved as a form of slang in the present day), " she . 

must feel she has been acting wrong." The general use / 

of men's surnames by women occurs in the earlier books, 
but we see an indication of change in this respect in the 
passage of Jane's lifetime, for in Emma it is considered 
vulgar of Mrs. Elton to address Mr. Knightley without 
the prefix. There are little ways of expressing things 
that are not now in vogue, men are " gentlemanlike," 
ladies " amiable," also " genteel and elegant " ; one 
phrase which has now descended to the realm of the 
lady's-maid was then quite good English, " so peculiarly 
the lady in it." " Excessively " takes the place of our 




"awfully," we hear continually such expressions as 
"monstrous obliging," "prodigious pretty," and "vastly 

We have not hitherto noticed Miss Edgeworth's, 
Miss Ferrier's, or Miss Mitford's work, though they are 
generally considered as belonging to the clever group of 
women writers who illumined the end of the eighteenth 
and beginning of the nineteenth centuries, because in this 
chapter we are dealing only with Jane Austen's own 
novels, not with contemporary writers except as they 
affected her, and at the time when she wrote her first 
books none of these writers had published anything, and 
could not therefore possibly have influenced her. Miss 
Edgeworth's first novel. Castle Rackrent^ came out in 
1 800, and Miss Ferrier's Marriage in 1 8 1 8, after Jane 
was in her grave, 

Jane Austen's own novels were written at such 
widely differing times, and the interval between writing 
and publication was so great in some cases, that the 
subject suffers from some confusion in the minds of 
those who have not looked into the question closely. 
As the order of writing is everything, and the order of 
publication a mere accident, we will take them as they 
were written. This was in two groups of three each. 
Pride and Prejudice was begun in October 1796 and 
finished the following August ; Sense and Sensibility was 
begun in 1797 and finished in 1798, in which year 
Northanger Abbey was also written. Then there was a 
long gap, in which she produced only a frag^ment to be 
noted hereafter, and not until 1 8 1 2 was Mansfield Park 
written ; four years later, in 1816, came Emma^ quickly 
followed by Persuasion, Of all these the first to be 
published was Sense and Sensibility in 181 1, and the 
dates of publication will thereafter be noted in chrono- 
logical order in the book as it progresses. 


Besides these two distinct groups of three novels 
each, there is another of the unfinished fragments, which 
never became real stories. These consist of Lady Susan^ 
a comedy in the form of letters, which is ended up 
hastily with a few paragraphs of explanation ; and The 
Watsons, an unfinished tale, of which the end was told 
by Cassandra Austen from remarks that her sister had 
made. Both of these are included, as has been said, in 
Mr. Austen-Leigh's Memoivy and it seems a pity that 
they should not form a volume in one of the neat series 
of Jane Austen's novels now published, as to a real 
Austenite they contain much that is valuable, and are full 
of characteristic touches. Of the complete novels Pride 
and Prejudice is admittedly the best ; there are several 
candidates for the second place, but the superiority of 
Pride and Prejudice is unquestioned. It was the earliest of 
the books written, under the title First Impressions^ and as 
such it is referred to in Jane's correspondence : " I do not 
wonder at your wanting to read First Impressions again, 
so seldom as you have gone through it, and that so long 
ago;" this was to her sister in 1799, and later on she 
adds, with the playfulness never long wanting, " I would 
not let Martha read First Impressions again upon any 
account, and am very glad I did not leave it in your 
power. She is very cunning, but I saw through her 
design, she means to publish it from memory, and one 
more perusal must enable her to do it." 

There has been great diversity of opinion as to the 
relative merit of the remaining books, but the concensus 
of opinion seems to declare for Emma^ the last but one 
in point of time, which shows that the author's genius 
had not abated. This book is totally different from the 
first, it lacks the sparkle and verve which runs all through 
Pride and Prejudice, but it has perhaps more depth and 
is something softer and more finished also. 



These two books, and all the others, will be dealt 
with in detail as they occur chronologically, for we are 
here only attempting to treat them generally, and to 
bring out those characteristics and excellencies commcni 
to all which made them such masterpieces, and gave 
their maker such a unique place in the hierarchy of 

Jane Austen is one of the three greatest among 
English women novelists ; the other two being, of course, 
George Eliot and Charlotte Bronte, whose lives overlapped 
at a much later date. . The genius of these three women 
is so entirely different in kind that the relative value of 
their gifts can never be put into like terms ; so long as 
men and women read and discuss fiction, so long will 
each of the three styles have its partisans who will argue 
it to be the supreme one of the trio. Ma^im mfitooS 
jj^ ti» mfik^ nUfrntn- momeiiiaiy fdylHOn to Oscry-iitt 
wonderful gifts of George Eliul, it ij quite lu UPhi ^at 
^ - depth - ^aod, hrf-nfjth nf frHing, 

or contfimoprary. 

eadi d e alt with une phaae nf lifn ng f a ri i ng ^ JiMi^Auitea. 
w ith Eiiyllbli vIllcigL lifo y Charlotte Bronte with the element 
of passion in man and woman, in-hjln rinfir£;ii Elinfg "^orlfp 

l^gf detractors are qfiegtioned, it will commonly be found 
that they do not deny her ability or her brain power, but 
her genius, which is of course a totally distinct ffiing. 
'On further probing of the matter, it is usually discovered 
that the contention is based on the later works, such as 
Middlemarch or Daniel Deronda, To be quite fair, there 
are some appearances in these volumes to justify such an 
estimate, but the mistake is that the opinion is superficial 
and based on appearance only. In her later days George 




4 r • 

^<^^ THE NOVEUS lOi 

'f^dous is the only English word that can be fitly applied to 
il, — wiii^h§£ seeso iiurJMMidwRi tffcr her mmporit, 
as well as allowing her such a wide .synray «i9 t9 -the 
causes and aa.ture of things tixA^mm Uil piudutlluiii mS 
her genius wwft Mftlvittk CHfibid^ mr) hehf hr channels. 
She rniil^ ^^*^ ^^^^ ^^^'^-^^^^ go; ^'^ snhtlr inright, her 
^QfflP^tf ^ l^ PQW lgdgft 9^ her rhjinictrn, miidii her qualify 
and ^ccouot fQH thfiif ACtionSj^jperhgps XOOK Sos^hmg mmt^ 
satisfacttQP . thp*^ ^^*' »^af r^f rg9dTfii Sb» ia ight eafaly 
have left this to her innate perception without fear, her 
genius would never have let her go wrongs but she, could 
nq^ she "ui?it ^^^ly"^ -^^^-^^ **^**' ^"t ^^t'on*! .ilo one 
in the world was more free from this tendency than Jane 
Austen^ she w^^ ^^^^^^^y ii«/^r^ti£-/»;r^iig ^f ^ygg, own mastery 
.of hfic g">^j**^*- ae imirnn'Trimi'i as the bee when it rejects 
all other shapes in its cells for the hexagonal. Xbft, 
marvellous precision with whiph.jjj&e selected and rej^ted 
and fmupfil hsi piippaiti mmmisitmm^ n mtMm^ti iafitiact 
Shft-pii^ iw the iftrto twiahflg nrhinh imniihi} ^fftat vna m 
the mimf^ «f hier men and women without premuMlBlIuii 
or any /B t w i iuf i . IV'i^ dkm pciftt tf a n of this gift wh i uK 
allows J^MT b gg lia #» 4io Msd^ >gnin nnd ngitni fnr once dK 
^tory is known^ all tba '^^^gbf indicatioaft ^ te tritfmatr 
omiing, which may have been overlooked whSetii»«Mder 
is not in tke secr e t, stand out vividly. We gwnnt- to 
Qmcgie Eliof s detractors that ia bar kter weriw her 
eyes unre opened, and she analysed 4m wotk 4)f her 
genius instead of wdtiag apMitameeosiy, bntte hertrae 
admirers the genius is still ^^^^'^ though iiih e d antt 


^GiKsy one of her men and woiQfid ta dw hBt-frre 
bwftrting ^"""T*" bainge. . Having granted, however, 
so much, we turn to the earlier works, which, amazing 
to say, are so often overlooked ; here her gallery is full 
of realities, not analysed or thwarted, but moving as 


impelled by nature. Was there ever a boy-brother and 
girl-sister in all fiction to equal Tom and Maggie 
Tulliver? And what of that inimitable trio, Sisters 
Glegg and Tulliver and Pullet? Of its kind is there 
a scene that can beat Bob Jakin's twisting Mrs. Glegg 
round his finger with judicious management? And 
these are from the abundance of one book only. No, 
Jane cannot dispute precedence with GeocgfS Eliot, but 
most yield the palm; her characters, trfie«ad admiraWe 
as they are, lack timk li¥uaig dmf^ wkM^ George Stuit 
had the povvr to impart. But Hm M»>-«m «a totally 
different Ihmt it w - ctMAetrtf to 'find any simHii thgl: will 
bring tiMm into relation with one anwttlei. Pertwips 
the ag&st expressive is that af mtkmamm^ mumr ; Jajne 
^ iTrtin V ^lisar notes are like those wMeh a s kH ft il 
performfif mkIbotis from ft gvml kmrpy wwfs&frfmi ^mffmg; 
always pk itf ftwt to IHtoi to, and re&tAUp but not soul 
stirring; while fia^-f^ B Huft tone» me MIm the deep 
notes of a violaaflaUa^ vlmBp itp the heart to its core^ 
tttid l^jMUXfi btMffd^fhem feeling even after tlitt MW4 
has ceased. The nmwln ?f jtitt" - frtrff^TT ^rrrrrr iuurels 
frf character cuwk oiannetff'^hwsc^ ^&f Oewgt Ejiiut of 
feelfejiB. There is no tmcntmik.ja this comparison to 

. TT^'nimhr in m\j iiiij""Tti iiiiili <# Hie msiier wflter, sh« 
chose her stylf^i and nf ifn liindiL i^ prtfflfit j ttftf subtle 
to u o heg could mlj Iwm been the redfrtt W tbe 'mtmtion 
nJuch i& gM iiiii ii bu l l th^^yMfajiadig e4aaQttoB&> the slow 
d^vdopment of character by firietfon wMi ^kmmr mmmh^ 
Ae.. did not ittcmpt in ili pit I 

We now turn to the third of the great trio. 

.y^harlotte Bronte's gift was a rush of strenuous 
passion that made her stories pour forth living and 
molten as from the furnace. Her best characters are 
admirable, but limited in number; we find the same 
timid heroine, who outwardly was herself, and inwardly 


was full offeree and passion, appearing in more than 
one. y^ 

Charlotte's bitter indictment of Jane's work, though 
wholly untrue, can be made allowance for, seeing that 
her eyes viewed such a different section of the world of 
feeling. She says of Pride and Prejudice : ** An accurate 
daguerreotyped portrait of a commonplace face ; a care* 
fully fenced, highly cultured garden, with neat borders 
and delicate flowers, but no glance of a bright vivid 
physiognomy, no open country, no fresh air, no blue 
hill, no bonny beck." And at another time, with much 
truth: "The passions are perfectly unknown to her; 
she rejects even a speaking acquaintance with that 
stormy sisterhood. What sees keenly, speaks aptly, 
moves flexibly, it suits her to study; but what throbs 
fast and full, though hidden, what the blood rushes 
through, what is the unseen seat of life, and the sentient 
target of death, this Miss Austen ignores." / 

Charlotte Bronte's own strongest point is her s^ry^ ^ 
and as the teller of an interesting story, absorbing in 
its wild and strenuous action, she ranks very high, but 
character-drawing is not her forte. She herself fails in 
the point of which she accuses Jane, she could photo- 
graph those persons she knew intimately, — herself for 
instance, or her father's curates, — but directly she went 
beyond, she failed; what could be weaker than the 
society people in Jane Eyre^ — the ringletted Blanche 
and the wooden young men? 

A great many of her minor characters are mere \/ 
dummies who do not remain in the mind at all. But 
one of her strong points is one entirely ignored by 
Jane, and that is the impression of scenery and the 
aspects of weather. Which of us has not felt a chill 
of desolation as he stood in fancy on the wet gravel- 
path leading up to Lowood? or not been sensible of 


the exhilaration of that sharp, clear, frosty night when 
Jane first encountered Mr. Rochester in the lane ? In a 
few words, very few, Charlotte Bronte has a marvellous 
capability for making one feel the surroundings of her 
characters, and this is no mean gift. Adherents she 
will always have, and to them it may be granted that 
her whole theme was one totally ignored by Jane, 
whose men and women are swept by no mighty whirl- 
winds of their own generating. In fact it has been 
alleged against Jane that she had neither passion nor 
pathos, and perhaps, if we except one or two touches of 
the latter quality in dealing with forlorn little Fanny in 
Mansfield Park^ this is true. The only simile that 
occurs as suitable to use in the comparison between 
Charlotte and Jane is that the soul of the one was 
like the turbulent rush of her own brown Yorkshire 
streams over the wild moorlands — streams which pour in 
cataracts and shatter themselves on great grey stones 
in a tumultuous frenzy, while that of the other resembled 
the calm limpid waters of her own Hampshire river, the 
Itchen, wending its way placidly between luscious green 

''A deeper sky, where stooping yoa may see 
The little minnows darting restlessly." 

The preference between these two is all a matter of 
taste, and will be decided by the fact whether the 
admiration of clear incisive humour and comedy of 
manners outweighs that of fiery feeling and a rush of 


THE main source of information about Jane Austen 
is contained in her letters. The bulk of those 
that have been preserved are to be found in the two 
volumes edited by Lord Braboume, her great-nephew. 
And these are only the remnant of what we might 
have had but for Cassandra's action. It could not 
matter to Jane or Cassandra now if those gay out- 
pourings had been published in full, and we should have 
had a much more complete and true picture of one 
whom England holds among her three greatest women 
novelists. As it is, anything based on these letters 
must necessarily be subject to modification, the infer- 
ences drawn are imperfect, and there are long gaps 
in continuity, while many events of great moment to 
the writer herself are not so much as referred to in 
them. We owe it, however, to the fact that visits 
then really were visits, extending over weeks or months, 
to compensate for the difficulty and expense of travel- 
ling, that what remain are many in number; and also 
we have cause to be thankful that on account of Mrs. 
Austen and the household, the two sisters made a 
point of not leaving home together, generally taking 
turns, so that the letters are very much more numerous 
than they might otherwise have been. 

Besides those written to Cassandra, there are a few 


given by Lord Braboume, which were written to his own 
mother as a girl, and these are by no means the least 
interesting in the book. A certain number also are 
addressed to Jane's other niece, Anna, Besides those 
in Lord Braboume's book, there are one or two 
additional ones in the Memoir by Mr. Austen-Leigh, 
Jane's own nephew. 

The first of the published letters is dated the begin- 
ning of 1796, when Jane was twenty-one. As the letters 
contain many comments on dress, food, daily occurrences 
of all sorts, the best method seems to be to use them as 
a thread on which to hang notes of the everyday life 
of the period, collating what the writer herself says with 
what is otherwise known, and in this way to gain a 
background against which her own figure will stand out. 

One great characteristic of her correspondence is 
its extreme liveliness and humour. This is the more 
remarkable because in her age and time letters were, 
with a few brilliant exceptions, ponderous and laboured, 
written in the grand style, as was perhaps natural when 
the sending of a letter was a serious consideration. 

The following is a good specimen of the style 
considered proper for a boy of sixteen, writing to 
his mother — 

" I am extremely sorry to be thus troublesome to 
you, but I hope the time may come when I shall be able 
to say that I have in some small degree deserved the 
many cares and anxieties I have cost you, at least no 
effort shall be lost to attain that end. There are two 
objects (virtue and ability) constantly before my eyes ; 
if I attain them I know myself sure of your approbation, 
in the possession of which I shall be happy, and without 
which I should be miserable, so that if selfish gratification 
was the only cause, I should proceed in my grand object. 
A more powerful cause, however, employs its influence 


upon my mind, a desire of doing good, which cannot 
operate without ability, cannot have efiect without virtue:* 

If a fond mother of the present day got such a letter 
from a schoolboy son she would probaMy take the first 
train to see if he were ill ! 

The same stiffness was the rule in intimate £unily 
relations. This boy, who was no peculiar specimen, but 
a natural boy of his times, writes about his little sister : 
" I am very glad to hear that Anna Maria is such a nice 
girL I hope she is clever both at her books and at her 
needle ... at the former I am sure she is, if she always 
writes such nice letters as the last she sent to me. Is it 
asking too much, to b^ her to write another before she 
returns to Kendal ? " 

How different these sentences are from the lively 
ones of Jane Austen to her sister : ** Everybody is 
extremely anxious for your return, but as you cannot 
come home by the Ashe ball, I am glad I have .ngt 
fed them with false hopes. James danced witlTAlithea, 
and cut up the turkey last night with great perseVtiaiitl. 
You say nothing of the silk stockings, I flatter myself 
therefore that Charles has not purchased any, as I 
cannot very well afford to pay for them. . . . We 
received a visit from Mr. Tom Lefroy and his cousin 
George. The latter is really very well behaved now, 
and as for the other he has but one fault, which time 
will, I trust, entirely remove, it is that his morning coat 
is a great deal too light." 

And again, " I am very much flattered by your 
commendation of my last letter, for I write only for 
fame and without any view to pecuniary emolument." 

It was an age of letter writing, periodicals were 
expensive, and, in remote districts, difficult to get ; even 
when obtained, the news was what we should deem at 
the present time scanty in the extreme. TAe Times, for 



instance, consisted of only a single folded sheet, of which 
the front page was occupied with advertisements. The 
foreign news was always some days old, as it was 
obtained by special packet-boats, which brought across 
the French papers. These boats being dependent on 
the wind and currents, were subject to many delays. 
The newspaper taxes were heavy and burdensome, and 
though even the poorest sheet of news must be con- 
sidered wonderful in view of the difficulty and expense 
attendant on the procuring of news in pre-telegraph 
days, the fact remains that much was left out which 
could only be supplied by private correspondence. 
Horace Walpole, of course, stands out as the prince 
of letter-writers of his time; his published letters now 
amount to over two thousand, and deal with all the 
current questions of the day. Of course these letters 
are on an altogether different plane from the little batch 
of about two hundred, which are all we have of Jane's. 
Walpole's letters are read, not only for their style and 
manner, but for the light they throw on society and 
politics. Jane's can be of interest to none but 
those who are interested in her. And at the time 
they were published there were many voices raised in 
protest against the publication of such very " small beer," 
but in so far as they throw light on her own daily life 
they are certainly worth having. 

Considered merely as private productions, it is 
wonderful, considering the expense of letter carriage 
and the delay of correspondence, that she wrote so 
much as she did. 

Letters in those days consisted only of a single 
sheet without an envelope, which was formed by the 
last page of the sheet itself being folded over and 
fastened by a wafer. This did not leave much room 
for writing. 


Jane wrote very small, and her lines are neat and 
straight, so that she got the largest amount possible 
into the available space. At that time a single 
sheet of paper, not exceeding an ounce in weight, 
varied in price from 46, to is. 6d., according to 
the distance it was carried ; if it exceeded an ounce, it 
was charged fourfold ; any additional bit of paper made j 
it into a double letter, which was charged accordingly. \ 
But the thing which would seem to us most intolerable 
of all, was that the recipient and not the sender paid for 
the missive, whereby many modest souls must have been 
prevented from ever writing to their friends lest the 
letter should not be considered worth the charge. Not 
until long after Jane had been in her grave did adhesive 
stamps come into use. 

It is a commonly received idea that the Post Office 
as an.institution dates from the establishment of universal 
penny post in the British Isles by Rowland Hill in 1 840. 
But this is far from being the case ; there was a post- 
master in 1533, if not before. In 1680 a parcels post ^ 
at a penny a pound was established in London by 
William Dockwra, who also suggested passing letters in 
London at the same rate. 

The profits of the post-office at that time were, by a / 
most flagrant abuse, the monopoly of the Duke of York, 
who vehemently resented Dockwra's improvements. In 
spite of this, however, Dockwra won his way. The 
London letters for the penny post " were daily " Trans- 
mitted to Lyme Street, at the Dwelling House of the said 
Mr. Dockwra, formerly the Mansion House of Sir Robert 
Abdy, Kt 

** There are Seven sorting Houses proper to the seven 
Precincts into which the undertakers have divided London, 
Westminster, and the Suburbs, situated at equal Distances, 
for the better maintenance of mutual Correspondence. 



There are about 400 or 500 receiving Houses, to take 
in letters, where the Messengers call every hour, and 
convey them as directed ; as also post letters^ the writing 
of which are much increased by this accommodation, being 
carefully conveyed by them to the general Post Office in 
Lombard Street" 

These " post letters " are those for the country, still 
the monopoly of the Duke, who had been persuaded to 
yield to Dockwra's scheme as likely to further his own 

Also, " By these [clerks, messengers, etc.] are conveyed 
Letters and Parcels not exceeding one Pound Weight, 
nor Ten Pound in Value, to and from all Parts at Season- 
able Times, viz. : of the Cities of London and Westminster, 
Southwark, Redriff, Wapping, Ratcliff, Limehouse, 
Stepney, Poplar, and Blackwall, and all other places 
within the weekly Bills of Mortality, as also the four 
towns of Hackney, Islington, South Newington Butts, 
and Lambeth, but to no other towns, and the letters to \ 

be left only at the receiving offices of those towns, or if 
brought to their Houses a penny more." 

Dockwra not only carried, but insured letters and 
parcels up to ;£'io in value. He was liberal in his 
deliveries. " To the most remote Places Letters go four 
or five times of the day, to other Places six or eight 
times of the day. To Inns of Court and Places of 
Business in Town, especially in term or Parliament time, 
ten or twelve times of the day." Stamps were also used 
to mark the hour when the letters were sent out to be 
delivered, an item only recently reintroduced into our 
postal service. Much wailing was heard at Dockwra's 
reforms from the porters of London, who had made a 
fine living by carrying correspondence, their outcries were 
much the same as those of the watermen, who afterwards 
wailed at the introduction of hackney coaches. 


Dockwra was not long allowed to enjoy his idea, for 
his scheme was incorporated into the General Post Office, 
though he afterwards received a pension of ;tsoo a year, 
and was made Comptroller of the London Post Office. 

For anything outside of London, distance still counted 
in the cost, though we read in The Times of 1793 that 
a penny post had been established in Manchester. It 
was Rowland Hill who introduced the universal penny 
post in Great Britain, thus extending the Dockwra idea. 
In 1 7 1 o the postal system was reformed and improved, 
three rates were put in force, namely: threepence if 
under eighty miles ; fourpence if above ; and sixpence 
to Edinburgh or Dublin. This explains the custom of 
carrying letters for some distance and then posting 
them ; Jane Austen says, " I put Mary's letter into the 
post office with my own hand at Andover," this was on 
the way to Bath. In 1720 cross-posts were introduced 
by the suggestion of Ralph Allen, a Bath postmaster ; 
before that time every letter had to go round by London 
to be cleared, even supposing it to be intended for a 
town not far off from the sender. Allen offered to 
organise the whole thing, paying a fixed rent, and 
taking the profits. His plan succeeded so well that he 
cleared ;£" 10,000 a year. At his death in 1764 the 
Government took over the contract. 

Up to 1784, letters were carried on horseback by 
post-boys, who were underpaid and undisciplined ; if a 
boy got drunk, or entered into conversation with strangers 
who turned out to be well-mannered footpads, the bags 
never reached their destination. In 1783, John Palmer, 
manager of the Bath and Bristol Theatre, suggested the 
employment of regular coaches, which might at the same 
time carry passengers, hence the inauguration of mail- 
coaches, the first two of which started between London 
and Bristol in August 1784. The drivers and guards 


were armed, and if this did not altogether ensure the 
safety of the mails — as the weapons were often a mere 
farce, and the men themselves either chicken-hearted or 
in collusion with the robbers — ^it proved, at all events, 
productive of greater regularity in the delivery of letters. 

" Hark t Tis the twanging horn ! O'er yonder bridge 
That with its wearisome but needful length 
Bestrides the wintry flood, in which the moon 
Sees her nnwrinkled fact reflected bright; 
He comes, the herald of a noisy world, 
With spattered boots, strapped waist, and frozen locks, 
News from all nations lumbering at his back. 
True to his charge the close packed load behind, 
Yet careless what he brings, his own concern 
Is to conduct it to the destined inn. 
And having dropped the expected bag — pass on." (Cowpbr.) 

Hannah More remarks on the innovation : " Mail 
coaches, which come to others, come not to me ; letters 
and newspapers now that they travel in coaches, like 
gentlemen and ladies, come not within ten miles of my 

The system of franking is one of those things that 
make us realise the difference between the ideas of our own 
time and those of the eighteenth century more than any- 
thing else ; that such an abuse can have been permitted 
is incredible, monstrous. Of course as it was in force 
everybody availed themselves of it without scruple, few 
indeed are the persons whose private consciences are in 
advance of public rules; Jane writes frequently on the 
subject — 

" As Eliza has been so good as to get me a frank, 
your questions shall be answered withpul'--in«K;h further 
expense to you. . . . On Thursday Mrf Lushingto]fcs^.P. 
for Canterbury, and manager of the InHgr hnuntn, dines 
here and stays the night. If I can, I will get ^ frank 
from him, and write to you all the sooner," 


** Now, I will prepare for Mr. Lushington, and as it 
will be wisest also to prepare for his not coming, or my 
not getting a frank, I shall write very close from the 
first, and even leave room for the seal in the proper 

"Letters were sent when finanlcs could be procured. 
And when they could not, silence was endured." (Crabbb.) 

Horace Walpole says, " I have kept this letter some 
days in my writing box till I could meet with a stray 
member of parliament, for it is not worth making you 
pay for." 

^ The franking of letters as an institution commenced 
as early as the year 1 660, when it was resolved that 
members' letters should come and go free, during the 
sitting of the House. When the Bill was sent up to 
the Lords, it was thrown out because the privilege was 
not extended to them. When, however, the omission 
was supplied, the Bill passed. The privilege in course 
of time was grossly abused. Members signed large 
packets of envelopes at once, and either sold them, or 
gave them to their friends. It was worth the while of 
a house of business, when letters cost sixpence apiece, to 
buy a thousand franks at fourpence apiece ; sometimes 
servants got them from their masters and sold them. In 
the year 171 5, franked letters representing ;£^ 24,000 a 
year passed through the post. In 1763 the amount was 
actually ;£* 170,000. Supposing that each letter would 
have brought in sixpence to the post office, this means 
nearly 7,000,000 letters, so that every member of the 
two Houses would have signed an average of 7000 letters 
a year. It was then enacted that no letter should pass 
free unless the address, as well as the signature, was in 
the member's handwriting. Lastly, it was ordered that 
all franks should be sealed and that they should be put 

114 Jane austek and HfiR times 

into the post on the day of the date. Even with these 
precautions the amount of franks represented ;t84,ooo 
a year. The privilege was finally abolished with the 
great reforms of 1841. It is needless to add that a 
system of wholesale forgery had sprung up long before." 
" Members of Parliament sold their privileges of franking 
sometimes for ;t300 a year." (Sir Walter Besant, 
London in the Eighteenth Century^ 

In Joseph Brasbridge's Fruits of Experience, it is 
mentioned that a large firm of drapers used to buy their 
franks from the poor relations of M.P/s at forty-eight 
shilling the gross. 

The abuse of franking was called In question at various 
dates, and reforms advised. In reply to questions asked 
in Parliament, it was stated that various clerks in Govern- 
ment offices used to frank to any amount — not only 
their own correspondence but that of others ; probably 
receiving large sums of money for doing so. In fact it 
was known that some persons whose salaries were ;£^300 
or ;t400 a year had been making incomes of jfi'iooo 
and j£'i200 by this means! The celebrated bookseller 
Lackington had friends in one of thfe offices, and sent 
his catalogues free all over the country. A majority of 
twelve decided for the Question in the House; 

The reforms practically meant the abolition of franks 
so far as private persons were concerned, as Hannah 
More put it, Pitt had murdered scribbling ; while speak- 
ing of a friend she writes : " She will generously tell 
me she has postage in her pocket, but we have been 
used to franks, and besides the post is bewitched and 
charges nobody knows what for letters ; two shillings 
and ninepence, I think Mrs. L. says she paid for a 
letter." And again, " The abolition of franks is quite a 
serious affliction to me, not that I shall ever regret 
paying the postage for my friends' letters, but for fear it 



should restrain them from writing. It is a tax upon the 
free currency of affection and sentiment, and goes nearer 
my heart than the cruel decision against literary property 
did, for that was only taxing the manufacture, but this 
the raw material." 

These remarks were caused by the reforms of 1784. 

But, as we have said, the whole system of franking 
was not abolished until 1841. 

Of course there were no postmen to deliver letters 
as they do now. It was considered a great convenience 
to have a post-office at all, from which letters could be 
fetched. In 1787, Horace Walpole says there was no 
posthouse at Twickenham. The fetching of letters is 
one of the minor peeps we get into the times through 
the novels. In Emma^ when Mr. Knightley meets Miss 
Fairfax he says — 

" ' I hope you did not venture far. Miss Fairfax, this 
morning, or I am sure you must have been wet. We 
scarcely got home in time. I hope you turned 
directly ! ' 

" * I went only to the post-office,' said she, * and 
reached home before the rain was much. It is my daily 
errand, I always fetch the letters when I am here. It 
saves trouble, and is a something to get me out. A 
walk before breakfast does me good.* . . . 

" * The post-office has a great charm at one period of 
our lives. When you have lived to my age you will 
begin to think letters are never worth going through 
rain for.' . . . 

" * You are speaking of letters of business ; mine are 
letters of friendship.' 

" * I have often thought them the worse of the two,' 
he replied coolly. 

" * Ah ! You are not serious now. . , . You have 
everybody dearest to you always near at hand. I prob- 


ably never shall again ; and therefore until I have out- 
lived all my affections, a post-office, I think, must always 
have power to draw me out, in worse weather than 
to-day/ " 

.When we realise that every one of the letters pre- 
served for us in Lord Brabourne's book must have 
cost on an average a shilling, we feel more strongly 
than before the tie between Jane and Cassandra, which 
demanded such constant communication, and the retail- 
ing of every minute affair. 

We have nothing to tell us how letters came to 
Steventon, but can form some sort of conjecture for our- 
selves. There was of course no post-office in such a 
minute place; the letters would arrive at Winchester, 
and from thence be forwarded by the Basingstoke coach, 
and dropped at the inn which stands at Popham Lane 
End, about two miles away. It would be almost certainly 
impossible for Jane to walk, except in the driest weather, 
through lanes of which we are told they were impassable 
for carriages at certain seasons, and could only be 
traversed on horseback. The man-servant would there- 
fore probably be detailed to go for the post-bag, possibly 
riding on one of the carriage horses; and Jane would 
wait in the damp mist of an autumn afternoon by the 
front door, dressed in a costume most unsuitable for the 
climate, according to our ideas, with thin heel-less slippers 
kept up by crossed elastic, and long clinging skirts, with 
bare arms and only a dainty chemisette not reaching to 
her neck. She would greet the man eagerly to see if 
there was a letter for her in the handwriting of her 
beloved sister, — a welcome break on the monotony of a 
grey day, when perhaps Mrs. Austen was in bed with 
one of her, chronic complaints. 


THE first of the published letters was written in 
January 1 796, a time of year when such a scene 
as that sketched at the end of the last chapter must 
often have taken place. The season was far from being 
a gloomy one» however, balls and entertainments were 
going on all round, and the Austens had guests of their 
own also. These were their cousins the Coopers, in 
regard to whom Lord Braboume, who being himself a 
great-nephew ought to have known, makes a nif/nt 
curious blunder. In his notes previous to the letters ha 
says, "The Coopers, whose arrival is expected in the 
first, and announced in the second letter, were Dr« 
Cooper, already mentioned as having married Jane 
Austen's aunt, Jane Leigh, with his wife and their two 
children, Edward and Jane, of whom we shall frequently 
hear.** This was in 1 796, but Dr. Cooper had died in 
1 792 ; he had held the livings of Sonning, in Berkshire, 
and Whaddon, near Bath, contemporaneously until bis 
death. The Mr. Cooper whom the Austens w^e 
expecting, was Dr. Cooper's son Edward, of whom Lord 
Braboume speaks as a child, with his wife and ^A^ir two 
small children, Edward and Isabella, then both under 
two years old. The Coopers are mentioned a great 
deal in the entertaining Diary of Mrs. Philip Lybbe 
Powys, from which we have already quoted, for Edward 



Cooper married her daughter Caroline. He, like his 
father, was in Orders, and was at first a curate at Harpsden 
under his non-residential grandfather, the Rev. Thomas 
Leigh, and was afterwards presented to the living of 
Hamstall Ridware, Staffordshire, by Mrs. Leigh, a relative 
of his mother's by whom he was connected with the 
Austens, Mrs. Austen having been a Miss Leigh. On 
January 21, 1799, Jane writes: "Yesterday came a 
letter to my mother from Edward Cooper to announce, 
not the birth of a child, but of a living ; for Mrs. Leigh 
has begged his acceptance of the rectory of Hamstall 
Ridware in Staffordshire, vacant by Mr. Johnson's death. 
We collect from his letter that he means to reside there. 
The living is valued at one hundred and forty pounds a 
year, but it may be improvable." 

The little boy mentioned above as coming with his 
parents to stay at Steventon, had been christened at 
Harpsden Church on December 3, 1794, and Henry 
Austen was one of the sponsors. At the christening of 
another little Cooper, named Cassandra, in i T^T^ Mrs. 
Austen stood sponsor. Jane remarks of the two elder 
children who came to Steventon, " the little boy is very 
like Dr. Cooper, and the little girl is to resemble Jane, 
they say." This probably gave rise to Lord Brabourne's 
mistake, but in reality Jane Austen was commenting on 
the child's likeness to its dead grandfather, not to its 
father, and the Jane the girl was to resemble, was 
Edward Cooper's sister Jane, who became Lady Williams, 
and was killed in a carriage accident in 1798. 

Even Mr. Austen-Leigh, Jane Austen's own nephew, 
does not seem to have realised Dr. Cooper's plurality of 
livings, for he says, " The family lived in close intimacy 
with two cousins, Edward and Jane Cooper, the children 
of Mrs. Austen's eldest sister, and Dr. Cooper, the vicar 
of Sonning, near Reading. The Coopers lived for some 




years at Bath, which seems to have been much frequented 
in those days by clergymen retiring from work. I 
believe that Cassandra and Jane sometimes visited 
them there, and that Jane thus acquired the intimate 
knowledge of the topography and customs of Bath which 
enabled her to write Northanger Abbey long before she 
resided there herself" 

The inference is not quite true, for if this had been 
so she must have acquired that knowledge before her 
seventeenth year, for she was that age when her uncle 
Dr. Cooper died, and it is probable that her aunt had 
predeceased him as she is never mentioned at all by 
Mrs. Lybbe Powys, who relates a tour she made with 
him, his son and daughter, to the Isle of Wight. But 
there is no need for any inference of the sort at all, 
for Jane had another uncle and aunt, Mr. and Mrs. 
Leigh-Perrot — her mother's brother having adopted the 
additional name of Perrot — who sometimes resided at 
Bath, and it is obviously to an invitation from this 
aunt she refers in a letter of 1799. 

As we have said, it was the season of balls at 
Steventon ; quiet as the rectory was there were many 
large houses of the country gentry around in various 
directions, and entertainments of all sorts were then 
perhaps even more in fashion than now ; to all of these 
the rectory party received invitations. In the second 
paragraph of the first letter, Jane says, "We had an 
exceeding good ball last night," and later, " I am almost 
ashamed to tell you how my Irish friend and I behaved. 
Imagine to yourself everything most profligate and 
shocking in the way of dancing and sitting down together 
... we had a very good supper, and the greenhouse 
was illuminated in a very elegant manner." 

In another letter, written later, she gives the 
following account of a ball: "We were very well 


entertained, and could have stayed longer, but for the 
arrival of my list shoes to convey me home, and I did 
not like to keep them waiting in the cold. The room 
was tolerable full, and the ball opened by Miss Glyn. 
The Miss JLances had partners, Captain Dauverg^e's 
friend appeared in regimentals, Caroline Maitland had an 
officer to flirt with, and Mr. John Harrison was deputed 
by Captain Smith, himself being absent, to ask me to 
dance. Everything went well, you see, especially after 
we had tucked Mrs. Lance's neckerchief in behind, and 
fastened it with a pin." 

Mr. Austen-Leigh says: "There must have been 
more dancing throughout the country in those days than 
there is now, and it seems to have sprung up more 
spontaneously, as if it were a natural production, with 
less fastidiousness as to the quality of music, lights, and 
floor. Many country towns had a monthly ball through- 
out the winter, in some of which the same apartment 
served for dancing and tea-room." 

People in the country were then more dependent on 
each other for entertainment, there was no looking upon 
the London season as a necessity, and people could not 
rush about from one end of England to another for a 
night or two as they now do. During the long winter 
months, when the bitter cold and the cumbersome methods 
of travelling made any journey out of the question for 
most, to say nothing of the expense, balls for those in 
the neighbourhood of Steventon were frequently given, 
and Jane and Cassandra Austen had their full share, and 
seem to have most heartily enjoyed it. Jane herself 
evidently loved dancing, balls are frequently mentioned 
in her novels, and the actual dancing itself, even without 
its enjoyable concomitant of flirtation, seems to have 
attracted her. 

Customs, however, then differed very much from 



those that now reign in ballrooms. In one way every- 
thing was more formal, in another more simple. The 
music, the wines, and the floor were less considered; 
young people got up an impromptu dance in a drawingr 
room very easily ; and the champagne, without which no 
one would dare to ask their friends to a dance now, was 
then not considered necessary. On the other hand, the 
actual performance was more formal ; there were no romps 
at lancers, no round dances suc|i as waltzes at all ; waltzes 
did not b^n to be danced generally until 18 14, and the 
polka not until 1844. In ^^ beginning of 18 14, when 
the waltz was just coming into fashion, Miss Mitford 
declaims against it, and calls it this '* detestable dance." 
** In addition to the obvious reasons which all women 
ought to have for disliking it, I cannot perceive its much 
vaunted graces. What beauty can there be in a series 
of dizzying evolutions, of which the wearisome monotony 
banishes all the tricksy fancies of the poetry of motion, 
and conveys to the eyes of the spectators the idea of a 
parcel of teetotums set a-spinning for their amusement?" 
In Jane's time, minuets, cotillions, etc., were the staple 
of the programme, and toward the end of the evening 
country dances, no doubt danced with much precision 
and elegance. Deportment was then a necessary part 
of the curriculum at every girls' boarding-school; and 
the ways of getting in and out of a carriage, and much 
more of bowing and entering a reception room, were all 
taught as if the performer were to go upon the stage ; 
every motion was regulated. It is true that the custom, 
so aptly illustrated in Evelina^ when the lady was forced 
by politeness to accept the first man who asked her, and 
to remain his partner for the evening, a custom that 
must have been responsible for many sore hearts and 
spoiled evenings, had gone out in Jane's time. But it 
was the fashion, at what were called private dances, for 


any man to ask any girl he fancied to become his 
partner without previous introduction; at public balls 
the Master of the Ceremonies did the introducing . In 
Evelina's time, girls must have had many an exciting 
evening, many an anguished moment when the wrong 
man asked the honour of their hand while the right man 
had not come forward I Evelina made a terrible mess 
of things at her first dance. She refused the ridiculous 
little fop who first approached her, and afterwards ac- 
cepted the handsome and engaging Lord Orville, who, i 
it must be confessed, is a far superior man to Miss 
Austen's corresponding hero, Darcy. Evelina narrates 
her acceptance of him in a letter to her guardian — 

" Well, I bowed, and I am sure I coloured ; for 
indeed I was frightened at the thoughts of dancing . 

before so many people, all strangers, and, which was ' 

worse, with a stranger ; however, that was unavoidable ; 
for, though I looked round the room several times, I 
could not see one person that I knew. And so he took 
my hand and led me to join in the dance." 

Of course the fop was not one to take this con- 
sidered insult quietly, he approached when Evelina and 
Lord Orville were sitting out between the dances, and 
asked, " * May I know to what accident I must attribute 
not having the honour of your hand ? ' 

" * Accident, sir,' repeated I much astonished. 

"*Yes, accident, madam, — ^for surely — I must take 
the liberty to observe — pardon me, madam, — it ought 
to be no common one — that should tempt a lady — so 
young a one too, — to be guilty of ill-manners.' 

" A confused idea now for the first time entered my 
head, of something I had heard of the rules of an 
assembly, but I was never at one before — I have only 
danced at school — ^and so giddy and heedless I was, 
that I had not once considered the impropriety of refus- 4 


ing one partner, and afterwards accepting another. I 
was thunderstruck at the recollection . . . 

" I afterwards told Mrs. Mirvan of my disasters, and 
she good-naturedly blamed herself for not having better 
instructed me, but she said she had taken it for granted 
that I must know such common customs." 

There is no trace of such a custom in Jane's times, 
her partners were always numerous. At the dances at 
Basingstoke or in the neighbourhood, she probably knew 
almost everyone in the room on familiar terms ; and she 
frequently had a brother with her to counterbalance the 
brothers of her girl friends. She danced well, with 
vivacity and grace; we can imagine her appearance 
without difficulty; her hair encircled by some neat 
bandeau or coquettish bow, her high-waisted simple 
frock of soft white muslin, her curls escaping in little 
ringlets on forehead and shoulders, her hazel eyes 
dancing as she parried the conversational thrusts of 
some too bold admirer, even as her own Elizabeth 
Bennet might have done. She certainly must have 
been popular; a girl who can talk wittily, dance well, 
and who is bright and sweet-tempered must always be 
in demand. And all the time her mind, half uncon- 
sciously, was storing up the little words and gestures of 
the persons around. Everything that was significant, 
everything that was amusing was noted, and from this 
storehouse she was to draw many a scene to delight 
unnumbered people yet unborn. 

In her time, the acceptance of a dance still carried 
with it two dances, or the twice going up and down in 
the minuet. 

Foolish Mrs. Bennet, overflowing with the events of 
the evening, on her return from the ball with her 
daughters, thus pours out her soul to her satirical 
husband — 




'''Jane was so admired, nothing could be like it 
Everybody said how well she looked ; and Mr. Bingley 
thought her quite beautiful, and danced with her twice. 
Only think of that, my dear, he actually danced with 
her twice; and she was the only creature in the room 
that he asked a second time. First of all he asked Miss 
Lucas. I was so vexed to see him stand up with her, 
however, he did not admire her at all ; indeed, nobody 
can, you know ; and he seemed quite struck with Jane 
as she was going down the dance. So he inquired who 
she was, and got introduced, and asked her for the two 
next Then the two third he danced with Miss King, 
and the two fourth with Maria Lucas, and the two fifth 
with Jane again, and the two sixth with Lizzy, and 
the Boulanger — * " 

At another ball poor Elizabeth has Mr. Collins for 
a partner — 

" The first two dances, however, brought a return of 
distress ; they were dances of mortification. Mr. Collins, 
awkward and solemn, apologising instead of attending, 
and often moving wrong without being aware of it, gave 
her all the shame and misery which a disagreeable 
partner for a couple of dances can give." 

In Northanger Abbey the hero and heroine first meet 
in the Lower Rooms at Bath at a ball, where they are 
introduced by the Master of the Ceremonies, but the 
subject of Bath is such an engrossing one that it must 
be treated separately in another chapter. In public 
ballrooms gentlemen wore swords, and ladies carried 
enormous fans ; it must have required some practice to 
manage these respective weapons in a crowded room. 
Mr. Austen-Leigh says in a note, " Old gentlemen who 
had survived the fashion of wearing swords, were known 
to regret the disuse of that custom, because it put an 
end to one way of distinguishing those who had, from 


those who had not, been used to good society. To wear 
the sword easily, was an art which, like swimming or 
skating, required to be learned in youth." 

As to the costumes worn, we get an idea of Catherine 
Morland's dress in her partner's jocose remark describing 
the "sprigged muslin robe with blue trimmings — plain 
black shoes." A few of the fashions we learn from 
contemporary newspapers, which thus filled their columns 
when foreign news was scarce. 

The Times remarks facetiously, — for The Times had 
not learnt to take its high office seriously in those days, 
— ^"We are very happy to see the waists of our fair 
countrywomen walking downwards by degrees towards 
the hip. But as we are a little acquainted with the 
laws of increasing velocity in fashionable gravitation, we 
venture to express, thus early in their descent, a hope 
that they will stop there." (April 15, 1799.) 

About this time fashion required ladies to wear an 
enormous pyramid^f feathers on their heads, and many 
were the jests made about this extraordinary whim of 
fashion — 

'* At all elegant assemblies there is a room set apart 
for the lady visitants to put their feathers on, as it is 
impossible to wear them in any carriage with a top to 
it. The lustres are also removed on this account, and 
the doors are carried up to the ceiling. A well-dressed 
lady, who nods with dexterity, can give a friend a little 
tap upon the shoulder across the room without incom- 
moding the dancers. The ladies' feathers are now 
generally carried in the sword case at the back of the 
carriage. {The Times ^ December 29, 1795.) 

With the soft light of wax candles— even nowadays 
sometimes preferred to modem brilliancy — shining on 
the long, clinging muslin dresses, the arch head-dresses, 
and nodding plumes, the swords and the fans, a ball- 



room must have presented a most animated spectacle; 
added to which the dress of the gentlemen was certainly 
far more picturesque and becoming than that of the 
present day. The gay satin coats and ruffles, the knee- 
breeches and silk stockings, must greatly have enlivened 
the scene. The subject of dress is too large to be 
treated in the middle of such a chapter, but to gain 
any idea of the balls which gave Jane Austen so much 
entertainment, these things must be at least indicated. ^ 

Apropos of the minuet, Mr. Austen-Leigh says : " It 
was not everyone who felt qualified to make this public 
exhibition, and I have been told that those ladies who 
intended to dance minuets, used to distinguish themselves 
from others by wearing a particular kind of lappet on 
their headdress* I have heard also of another curious 
proof of the respect in which this dance was held. 
Gloves immaculately clean were considered requisite for 
its due performance, while gloves a little soiled were 
thought good enough for a country dance ; and accord- 
ingly some prudent ladies provided themselves with two 
pairs for their several purposes." 

The lady of the greatest distinction in the room was 
chosen to open the ball. Modest Fanny in Mansfield 
Park was quite overwhelmed when she discovered that 
she was expected to do this, in the absence of her 
cousins, by taking ^ the first part in the minuet, an idea 
that had never occurred to her before. " She found 
herself the next moment conducted to the top of the 
room, and standing there to be joined by the rest of 
the dancers, couple after couple as they were formed. . . . 
The ball began. It was rather honour than happiness 
to Fanny for the first dance at least ; her partner was in 
excellent spirits, and tried to impart them to her ; but she 
was a great deal too much frightened to have any enjoy- 
ment till she could suppose herself no longer looked at." 


At balls there was generally a room set aside for the 
older people who preferred to play cards. Mrs. Lybbe 
Powys, in 1777, gives an account of a fashionable evening 
party — - 

" No minuets that night ; it would have been difficult 
without a master of ceremonies among so many people 
of rank. Two card-rooms, the drawing-rooms and 
eating-room. The latter looked so elegant lighted up ; 
two tables at loo, one quinze, one vingt-et-une, many 
whist. At one of the former large sums passed and 
repassed. I saw one lady of quality borrow ten pieces 
of Tessier within half an hour after she sat down to 
vingt-une, and a countess at loo, who owed to every soul 
round the table before half the night was over. The 
orgeat, ^ lemonade, capillaire, and red and white negus 
with cakes, were carried round the whole evening. At 
half an hour after twelve the supper was announced, and 
the hall doors thrown open, on entering which nothing 
could be more striking, as you know 'tis so fine a one, 
and was then illuminated by three hundred coloured 
lamps round the six doors, over the chimney, and over 
the statue at the other end. . . . The tables had a most 
pleasing effect ornamented with everything in the con- 
fectionery way, and festoons and wreaths of artificial 
flowers prettily disposed; all fruits of the season as 
grapes, pines, etc., fine wines — ninety-two sat down to 
supper. . . . The once so beautiful Lady Almeria I think 
is vastly altered. She and Lady Harriot Herbert had 
the new trimmings, very like bell ropes with their tassels, 
and seemingly very inconvenient in dancing. After 
supper they returned to dancing, chiefly then cotillions, 
till near six." 

Cotillions were later replaced by quadrilles. In 1 8 1 6, 
Jane writes to her niece Fanny — 

" Much obliged for the quadrilles which I am grown 


to think pretty enough, though of course they are very 
inferior to the cotillions of my own day." 

But balls were not the only recreations Jane and 
Cassandra had ; people were very sociable in those days ; 
the sketch of Sir John Middleton's horror of being alone, 
and his delight at gathering together in his house all the 
acquaintances whom he could persuade to come, is only 
slightly exaggerated from the prevailing spirit of his 
times. People were always running over to see each 
other, always spending long days at each other's houses ; 
hospitality was taken for granted, and was too commcHi 
to be reckoned a virtue. Jane and Cassandra in this 
way were continually in touch with their nearest 
neighbours at Deane and Ashe. 

It is impossible to resist quoting the following 
malevolent description of Jane Austen, so unlike any- 
thing we know of her; it was given to Miss Mitford 
by a lady who, it is admitted, had every reason to 
dislike the Austens, for her brother-in-law was engaged 
in a lawsuit with Edward Austen (Knight), trying to get 
away from him one of his estates ! This lady says that 
Jane had " stiffened into the most perpendicular, precise, 
taciturn piece of single blessedness that ever existed, and 
that, till Pride and Prejudice showed what a precious 
gem was hidden in that unbending case, she was no 
more regarded in society than a poker or a fire screen 
or any other thin upright piece of wood or iron that fills 
its corner in peace and quietness. The case is very 
different now, she is a poker, but a poker of whom 
everyone is afraid." 

And Mrs. Mitford professes to recollect Jane in girl- 
hood as being '^ the prettiest, silliest, most affected, 
husband hunting butterfly " she ever remembers. 

The whole tone of Jane's own writings and letters 
redeems her memory from any possible reproach of 


afTectation, and the evidence all points to the fact that, 
though not averse from a flirtation, she was the very last 
of all girls to desire a husband ! But it is of interest to 
record contemporary impressions, so as to show both sides 
of the shield. 

The first of the letters in Lord Braboume's book 
contains suggestions of a subject much more interesting 
than mere dancing or visiting. In the case of an author 
like Jane Austen, who has become the world's property, 
it is impossible that there should be any concealment of 
those affairs of the heart usually reserved for private con- 
fidence only. To fail in discussing such a point would 
be to leave aside a whole aspect of her life and books. 
Jane must have been admired, her vivacity, her wit, her 
gaiety of heart, her pleasant person, and her keen enjoy- 
ment of life must have attracted attention; we know 
definitely she had at least two eligible offers, and probably 
others, as she was the very last person to boast of such 
things openly. It has sometimes happened that those 
most worth having have lived and died single, for they 
are too fastidious, too difficult to please, to mate readily, 
while a commonplace girl is made happy by the addresses 
of any ordinary man, and gladly persuades herself to be in 
love. Jane, who had a peculiar and deep knowledge of 
character, could not be easily blinded, she would have 
required much in a man, and men no doubt instinctively 
knew it. Her tongue, we know, was sharp, she had a 
knack of saying sharp things, and those who did not 
know her well may have been uneasy under her pene- 
trating insight. Those who did know her may have 
gathered from her perfectly spontaneous manner and 
absence of any affectation that she was entirely heart 
whole, and been thus discouraged from trying their fate. 
The extract naming her Irish friend has already been 
quoted, this referred to the late Lord Chief Justice of 



Ireland, at that time only Tom Lefroy, whose uncle 
was Rector of Ashe, adjoining Deane, and with whom 
Jane seems to have carried on a lively flirtation. 

After telling Cassandra how much she had danced 
with him, she adds, " I can expose myself, however, only 
once more, because he leaves the country soon after next 
Friday, on which day we are to have a dance at Ashe 
after all. He is a very gentlemanlike, good looking, 
pleasant young man, I assure you. But as to our having 
ever met, except at the three last balls, I cannot say 
much ; for he is so excessively laughed at about me at 
Ashe, that he is ashamed of coming to Steventon, and 
ran away when we called on Mrs. Lefroy a few days 
ago . . . After I had written the above we received a 
visit from Mr. Tom Lefroy and his cousin George." 

" I mean to confine myself in future to Mr. Tom 
Lefroy, for whom I don't care sixpence." . . . Friday, 
" At length the day is come on which I am to flirt my 
last with Tom Lefroy, and when you receive this it will 
be oven My tears flow as I write at the melancholy 

At this time she was twenty-one, and he twenty- 
three, but they do not seem to have been of such suscep- 
tible dispositions as many young men and women of 
their age. 

We hear of Mr. Lefroy again in 1798, when his aunt 
has been calling at Steventon. The reference is a little 
perplexing. Jane says first, speaking of Mrs. Lefroy, 
" Of her nephew she said nothing at all, and of her friend 
very little," and a few sentences further on remarks, " She 
showed me a letter which she had received from her 
friend a few weeks ago, toward the end of which is a 
sentence to this effect, * I am very sorry to hear of Mrs. 
Austen's illness. It would give me particular pleasure to 
have an opportunity of improving my acquaintance with 


that family — with the hope of creating to myself a nearer 
interest. But at present I cannot indulge any expecta- 
tion of it.' This is rational enough ; there is less love 
and more sense in it than sometimes appeared before, 
and I am very well satisfied. It will go on exceedingly 
well, and decline away in a very reasonable manner. 
There seems to be no likelihood of his coming into 
Hampshire this Christmas, and it is therefore most 
probable that our indifference will soon be mutual, unless 
his regard, which appeared to spring from knowing 
nothing of me at first, is best supported by never seeing 

It seems evident, therefore, that some friend who had 
been staying at Ashe previously had also shown symptoms 
of losing his heart to Jane, who did not take his affection 
seriously, and was in no danger of losing her own. Her 
prediction seems to have been verified, for we never hear 
of him again, unless he was the man to whom Mr. 
Austen-Leigh refers when he says — 

'' In her youth she had declined the addresses of 
a gentleman who had the recommendations of good 
character and connections, and position of life, of everything 
in fact except the subtle power of touching her heart." 

The other offer above referred to was made to her in 
1802 by someone described by her niece Anna as a 
** sensible pleasant man," but he also failed in the essential 

Mr. Austen-Leigh tells us further of " one passage of 
romance in her history with which I am imperfectly 
acquainted, and to which I am unable to assign name, or 
date, or place, though I have it on sufficient authority. 
Many years after her death, some circumstances induced 
her sister Cassandra to break through her habitual 
reticence and to speak of it. She said that, while staying 
at some seaside place, they became acquainted with a 


gentleman, whose charm of person, mind, and manners, 
was such that Cassandra thought him worthy to possess 
and likely to win her sister's love. When they parted 
he expressed his intention of soon seeing them again, and 
Cassandra felt no doubt as to his motives. But they 
never again met. Within a short time they heard of his 
sudden death." 

This incident may seem too slight and unimportant 
even for reference, but in reality it may have had a deep 
significance. Those who have studied human nature, 
know that there are here and there among both men and 
women, minds that are satisfied with nothing less than 
the best A temperament like Jane Austen's, where 
the whole nature was extremely sensitive, and the mind 
extremely clear-sighted, would have required qualities of 
the heart and mind in a man to be loved that are not to 
be found every day. In addition, it would have been 
quite impossible for her to marry any man from respect 
only or simple friendship. Nothing but love could have 
carried her fastidious nature over the bound of matrimony. 
Such natures as Jane's are not facile : not for them the 
willing self-deception which imagines love in any man 
who is an admirer; not for them the blindness which 
attributes qualities where they are not, nor the vanity 
which credits a man with every virtue merely because he 
has the taste to prefer them. Many marriages are made 
on these lines, and a proportion turn out well ; but the 
higher natures, standing out here and there, require a 
sounder basis. 

The incident above described is attributed by her 
niece (Anna Lefroy), writing many years later, to the year 
1 799 or 1 800, when Jane was on a tour in Devonshire 
with her mother and sister, and other writers have drawn 
from it the inference that from this heart distress came the 
inability to create, and that it thus accounted for the long 


interval during which she wrote nothing at all. This 
hardly seems likely, or at all events there were many other 
causes equally likely, such as the impossibility of getting 
her MSS. published, which may have militated against 
her adding to them, and her own father's death may have 
been a shock from which she was slow to recover. 

There is a cryptic sentence in the correspondence of 

1808 which seems to show that her heart was at that 

time touched, and that she expected to meet someone 

'^who was an object of great interest to her. She was 

then staying at Godmersham, and writes — 

" I have been so kindly pressed to stay longer here, 
in consequence of an offer of Henry's to take me back 
some time in September, that, not being able to detail 
all my objections to such a plan, I have felt myself 
obliged to give Edward and Elizabeth one private reason 
for my wishing to be at home in July. They feel the 
strength of it, and say no more, and one caii rely on 
their secrecy. After this I hope we shall not be 
disappointed of our friend's visit ; my honour as well as 
my affection will be concerned in it" 

If these words had occurred some years earlier, they 
would seem to point directly to that visitor whose 
coming was hindered by death, but, according * to the 
niece's account, they must have been written too long 
after this incident to have any bearing upon it. It may 
be, however, that Anna, being young at the time, and 
knowing of the affair only by hearsay, was mistaken; 
and in any case she does not authoritatively state the 
year as 1799, but believes it to have been about then. 
If, however, the first meeting had taken place in 1805 <>r 
1 806, this remark of Jane's might allude to it, for no 
one says that the death of the man in question took 
place immediately after she knew him, but only before 
there was a second meeting. Jane's own words, "my 


honour as well as my affection/' point directly to some 
admirer, for she would feel that once having betrayed her 
own eagerness to her brother and sister-in-law, the fact 
of the visitor's not taking the trouble to come to see her 
would appear to them a direct slight. The reference 
can hardly have been to an}^hing but a love-affair, and 
her own eagerness looks as if she were in earnest at last. 
If the words cannot be taken to refer to the known 
admirer, they must certainly have referred to some other ; 
and as nothing more is heard of him, perhaps he did not 
come as she anticipated, and she, who had found it so 
difficult to take the proposals of others seriously, was 
herself mistaken when she was in earnest ; but all this is 
mere conjecture. 

Sir Walter Scott, in his review of Emma in the 
Quarterly^ finds generally in Jane Austen's books a 
deficiency of what he considers romance, and he thus 
indicts her-r- 

" One word, however, we must say in behalf of that 
once powerful divinity, Cupid, king of gods and men, who 
in these times of revolution, has been assailed, even in 
his own kingdom of romance, by the authors who were 
formerly his devoted priests. We are quite aware that 
there are few instances of first attachment being brought 
to a happy conclusion, and that it seldom can be so 
in a state of society so highly advanced as to render 
early marriages among the better classes acts, generally 
speaking, of imprudence. But the youth of this realm 
need not at present be taught the doctrines of selfishness. 
It is by no means their error to give the world, or the 
good things of the world, all for love ; and before the 
authors of moral fiction couple Cupid indivisibly with 
calculating prudence, we would have them reflect that 
they may sometimes lend their aid to substitute more 
mean, more sordid, and more selfish motives of conduct. 


for the romantic feelings which their predecessors perhaps 
fanned into too powerful a flame. Who is it, that in 
his youth has felt a virtuous attachment, however 
romantic, or however unfortunate, but can trace back to 
its influence much that his character may possess of what 
is honourable, dignified, and disinterested ? " 

With due deference to the opinion of the greatest 
romancer in English fiction, he begs the question when 
he inserts the words "however unfortunate." An 
unfortunate love-affair in youth exercises without doubt 
a lasting good effect on any man who has grit in him, it 
is the fortunate ones that, paradoxically, are often so 

Perhaps no word in the English language has ever 
been misused like poor " romance " ; Jane was not devoid 
of it, in almost every case she distinguishes between the 
real and the false, Marianne's silly girlish admiration for 
Willoughby, and Emma's purely imaginary inclination 
toward Frank Churchill, are alike shown to be false, and 
founded only on that fleeting attraction which both men 
and women in early youth feel for the admirable person 
of one of the opposite sex. There are many persons 
still who think that this first flush of passion is real 
romance ; that a young man who, at the most susceptible 
moment of his^life, sees a pretty face, and falls a victim 
to it, perhaps even without ever having spoken to its 
possessor, has struck the real thing. This is to put love 
on the lowest basis of animalism. The beautiful girl, 
whatever the nature that Jies beneath, is sought by a 
score of young men purely because she arouses in them 
their first instincts of manhood, but perhaps to no one of 
them is she the real mate. Love, that true deep attrac- 
tjpn of the heart and mind, does not come so readily, nor 
is it induced by personal attractions without further 
knowledge, though it may well be enhanced by them. 


Many and many a man takes a rash step into marriage, 
solely on the ground of external attraction, to gratify a 
youthful impulse, and having himself fitted the harness 
to his shoulders, spends the rest of his life in accommo- 
dating himself to it, without making the process of 
accommodation too patent to the eyes of the world. If 
he be a man at all, he realises that it was his own doing 
entirely, and he must bear the responsibility. Such 
marriages may, if the two be malleable and adaptable, 
turn out happily enough, especially if, as does sometimes 
happen, love comes after marriage, but the risk is a 
terrible one to take. The perpetuation of the race is the 
most urgent necessity, so nature takes care to secure it 
at all risks to the happiness of individuals ; and certainly 
were it not for the indulgence of this momentary madness 
of youth, which oddly enough Sir Walter seems to regard 
as a form of unselfishness, the world would have fewer 
married couples in it. n 

When Jane depicted the slow growth of Emma's 
love for Knightley, she drew wisely. Lord Braboume 
has remarked that he wished Emma had married Frank 
Churchill, and herein he shows his own superficial view of 
human nature. Emma was a strong character strongly 
developed. She must either have married, for her own 
happiness, a man who was her master, or one whom she 
could completely guide ; the world usually accords the 
latter kind of marriage to such natures, and in the 
character of Elinor Dashwood, who in some ways resembles 
Emma, we see this alternative match, for she marries the 
hopelessly weak Edward Ferrars ; but Emma's was the 
better match ; for many a man has discovered for him- 
self that when a strong nature finds its master it gives a 
far higher and nobler love and obedience than that given 
by a shallow one whose opinions and ideas are merely \ 
wisps of fancy. Emma recogfnised that Knightley was 


her master, his quiet audacity, his failure to join in the 
general paean of flattery she received, his manliness in 
controlling his own feelings, appealed to her, and we 
may feel sure that her self-surrender just gave that finish- 
ing touch of softening to her nature which it needed ; as 
a loving wife with full confidence in the judgment and 
principle of the man she had chosen, she would grow 
softer and kindlier every day of her life. She and Frank 
Churchill would very soon have been disgusted with each 
other, for he was not so weak as to have surrendered 
entirely to her authority, and constant friction would 
have been the result of their mating. Jane Austen does 
not make her id^. marriage a rpjprr rpmenting of frffmd- 
ship, she recogfnises that to be perfect it must have that 
eTemenf dTp^sorial attraction which, to fastidious niinds, 
alone makes marriage possible, Mr. Knightley was 
E mma's friend and advis er fr om the firsts but not until 
h er inclination for him was revealed jn a lightning flash 
did the idea of marrying him ente r her head. The 
difference between this personal in^lination~and the 
fantasy of youth is, that what is cause in the one is effect 
in the other. In the case of real love, the personal 
appearance is loved because of the personality behind it ; 
in the spurious attraction the personal appearance is the 
first consequence, and the character behind it is idealised, 
with the constant result of woeful disillusionment. In 
one place Jane shows how fully she realised the difference 
between the true and the false by a little saying, " Three 
and twenty — a period when, if a man chooses a wife, he 
generally chooses ill." 

In the softest and most tender of her books. 
Persuasion^ she gives a beautiful picture of a girl's real 
love, a love which lasted through time and brought 
out what was best in the character, and in one of 
the most charming scenes in this novel, Anne Elliot, 


the heroine, gives her views on men's and women's 
constancy thus — 

"'Your [men's] feelings may be the strongest,' 
replied Anne, *but the same spirit of analogy will 
authorise me to assert that ours are the most tender. 
Man is more robust that woman, but he is not longer 
lived; which exactly explains my view of the nature 
of their attachments. Nay, it would be too hard upon 
you if it were otherwise. You have difficulties, and 
privations, and dangers enough to struggle with. You 
are always labouring and toiling, exposed to every 
risk and hardship. Your home, country, friends, all 
quitted. Neither time, nor health, nor life to be 
called your own. It would be too hard indeed if 
(with a faltering voice) woman's feelings were to be 
added to all this.'" 

This, in spite of its somewhat glorified view of an 
ordinary man's career, is very touching, and still more 
so what follows — 

"*We can never expect to prove anything upon 
such a point It is a difference of opinion which does 
not admit of proof. We each begin probably with a 
little bias towards our own sex; and upon that bias 
build every circumstance in favour of it which has 
occurred within our own circle. ... I hope to do 
justice to all that is felt by you — I believe you capable 
of everything great and good in your married lives. 
I believe you equal to every important exertion and 
to every domestic forbearance, so long as — if I may 
be allowed the expression — so long as you have an 
object. I mean while the woman you love lives and 
lives for you. All the privilege I claim for my own 
sex (it is not a very enviable one, you need not 
covet it) is that of loving longest, when existence or 
when . hope is gone.' " 


Natures which set their all on the chance of such 
a high throw as the demand for a marriage combining 
personal attraction and real suitability of character, 
know well that it is not likely that they will win; 
people who ask only for personal attraction, and risk 
all the rest, are in different case. But it is remarkable 
how the growing generation of men are learning to 
look below the surface and to take some trouble to 
find out the character of the girl who has attracted 
them before binding themselves ; men, even young men, 
do not rush into marriage with the same lack of all 
self-control that a previous generation did. With the 
evaporation of the sentimentality of the Victorian 
period there has come also a far higher ideal of 
marriage, and a man demands more of his wife than 
evanescent personal attractions. 

Though Jane set love at a high altitude, she was 
perfectly free from false sentiment or silly sentimentality. 
She says in one place of a man who loves hopelessly, 
" It is no creed of mine, aa von must be well ..awiire, 
that such sorts of disappointme nts kill anybody." 

And her delightful sense of Tiumour shows up in 
an inimitable light the foolish weakness of a girl 
suffering from a purely imaginary love- affair. The 
occasion is after the disillusionment of poor sentimental 
Harriet as to the real feelings of Mr. Elton, whom 
she had been encouraged by Emma to r^ard as an 
unexpressed lover. " Harriet came one morning to 
Emma with a small parcel in her hand, and after 
sitting down and hesitating thus began — 

"^Miss Woodhouse, if you are at leisure, I have 
something that I should like to tell you ; a sort of con- 
fession to make — and then you know it will be over.' 

** Emma was a good deal surprised, but b^ged her 
to speak. , . . 


" * How could I be so long fancying myself — / cried 
Harriet warmly. * It seems like madness ! I can see 
nothing at all extraordinary in him now, I do not care 
whether I meet him or not, except that of the two I 
had rather not see him; and indeed I would go any 
distance round to avoid him, but I do not envy his 
wife in the least; I neither admire her nor envy her 
as I have done. She is very charming, L daresay, and 
all that, but I think her very ill-tempered and disagree- 
able; I shall never forget her look the other night. 
However, I assure you. Miss Woodhouse, I wish her 
no evil No, let them be ever so happy together, it 
will not give me another moment's pang; and, to 
convince you that I have been speaking the truth, I 
am now going to destroy — what I ought to have 
destroyed long ago — what I ought never to have 
kept; I know that very well (blushing as she spoke). 
However, now I will destroy it all, ^and it is my 
particular wish to do it in your presence, that you 
may see how rational I am grown. Cannot you guess 
what this parcel holds?' said she with a conscious 

"*Not the least in the world. Did he ever give 
you anything?* 

" * No, I cannot call them gifts, but they are things 
that I have valued very much.' 

" She held the parcel towards her and Emma read 
the words, * Most precious treasures ' on the top. Her 
curiosity was greatly excited. Harriet unfolded the 
parcel and she looked on with impatience. Within 
abundance of silver paper was a pretty little Tunbridge- 
ware box, which Harriet opened ; it was well lined with 
the softest cotton ; but excepting the cotton, Emma saw 
only a small piece of court-plaister. 

" * Now,' said Harriet, * you must recollect' 


" * No, indeed, I do not.' 

" ' Dear me I I should not have thought it possible 
that you could forget what passed in this very room 
about court-plaister, one of the very last times we ever 
met in it. .. . . Do not you remember his cutting his 
finger with your new pen-knife, and your recommending 
court-plaister? But, as you had none about you, and 
knew I had, you desired me to supply him ; and so 
I took mine out, and cut him a piece; but it was a 
great deal too large, and he cut it smaller, and kept 
playing some time with what was left before he gave 
it back to me. And so then, in my nonsense, I could 
not help making a treasure of it ; so I put it by, never 
to be used, and looked at it now and then as a great 

"'My dearest Harriet!' cried Emma, putting her 
hands before her face, and jumping up, ... ' And so 
you actually put this piece of court-plaister by for his 
sake,' • • . and secretly she added to herself, ' Lord 
bless me ! when should I ever have thought of putting 
by in cotton a piece of court-plaister that Frank 
Churchill had been pulling about ! I never was equal 
to this.' 

** * Here,' resumed Harriet, turning to her box again, 
'here is something still more valuable, — I mean that 
Aas been more valuable, — because this is what did 
really once belong to him, which the court-plaister 
never did.' 

'' Emma was quite eager to see this superior 
treasure. It was the end of an old pencil, the part 
without any lead. 

" * This was really his,' said Harriet * Do not you 
remember one morning? ... I forget exactly the day 
... he wanted to make a memorandum in his pocket- 
book ; it was about spruce beer • . . and he wanted to 


put it down; but when he took out his pencil there 
was so little lead that he soon cut it all away, and it 
would not do, so you lent him another, and this was 
left upon the table as good for nothing. But I kept 
my eye upon it; and, as soon as I dared, caught 
it up, and never parted with it again from that 
moment' • • . 

"*My poor dear Harriet! and have you actually 
found happiness in treasuring up these things?' 

"'Yes, simpleton as I was! — but I am quite 
ashamed of it now, and wish I could forget as easily 
as I can burn them. It was very wrong of me, you 
know, to keep any remembrances after he was married. 
I knew it was — ^but had not resolution enough to part 
with them/ " 

This is pure comedy! 

In Jane Austen's day there certainly was an open- 
ness in the arrangements about marriage that jars on 
our more reticent minds. Of course it is undeniable 
that at that time a girl's only vocation, unless she 
happened to be a genius, was marriage, but the way 
in which suitability as to means and position were 
frequently considered as of all importance, and love 
merely as a secondary consideration, is slightly per- 
turbing. Jane Austen's high ideal of marriage must 
have been rarer then than at the present time. Perhaps 
the best example of the shameless discussion of the 
mariage de convenance in the novels is the interview 
between Elinor Dashwood and her brother, when Colonel 
Brandon has shown some slight attention to her. Her 
brother begins by asking — 

'''Who is Colonel Brandon? Is he a man of 
fortune ? ' 

" ' Yes, he has very good property in Dorsetshire.' 

" ' I am glad of it He seems a most gentlemanlike 


man; and I think, Elinor, I may congratulate you on 
the prospect of a very respectable establishment in 

" * Me, brother ! what do you mean ? ' 

** ' He likes you. I observed him narrowly, and am 
convinced of it. What is the amount of his fortune ? ' 

" ' I believe about two thousand a year/ 

'"Two thousand a year!' Then working himself 
up to a pitch of enthusiastic generosity, he added, 
' Elinor, I wish with all my heart it weie twice as 
much for your sake.' 

'' ' Indeed, I believe you/ replied Elinor, * but I am 
very sure that Colonel Brandon has not the smallest 
wish of marrying me/ 

"*You are mistaken, Elinor; you are very much 
mistaken. A very little trouble on your side secures 
him. Perhaps just at present he may be undecided; 
the smallness of your fortune may make him hang 
back; his friends may all advise him against it But 
some of those little attentions and encouragements 
which ladies can so easily give will fix him in spite 
of himself. And there can be no reason why you 
should not try for him. It is not to be supposed that 
any prior attachment on your side — in short you know, 
as to an attachment of that kind it is quite out of the 
question, the objections are insurmountable — Colonel 
Brandon must be the man; and no civility shall be 
wanting on my part to make him pleased with you 
and your family. It is a match that must give universal 
satisfaction/ " 

The " prior attachment" was that to his own brother- 
in-law, Edward Ferrars, for whom his wife hoped to get 
a better match, and as a matter of fact the man in 
question, Colonel Brandon, was not in love with Elinor, 
but with her impulsive sister, Marianne, who was wasting 


away under the slights of Willoughby. Of her, her 
brother kindly remarks — 

" * At her time of life, anything of an illness destroys 
the bloom for ever ! Hers has been a very short one ! 
She was as handsome a girl last September as ever I 
saw, and as likely to attract the men. There was some- 
thing in her style of beauty to please them particularly. 
I remember Fanny used to say she would marry sooner 
and better than you did ; she will be mistaken, however. 
I question whether Marianne now will marry a man 
worth more than five or six hundred a year at the 
utmost, and I am very much deceived if you do not 
do better.* 

"Elinor tried very seriously to convince him that 
there was no likelihood of her marrying Colonel 
Brandon, but it was an expectation of too much 
pleasure to himself to be relinquished. ... He had 
just compunction enough for having done nothing for 
his sisters himself to be exceedingly anxious that 
everyone else should do a great deal." 

And John Dashwood's idea of the barter of women 
for so much, according to their attractions, though it 
differed not in essentials from that of a Circassian 
slave-dealer, was quite an ordinary one. The un-_ 
blushing eagerness with which any heiress wasjiteradly 
pursued, the desperate devices to get portionless 
daughters married, doubtless have their counterparts 
now^^uf ITiey" are not so. prominent; portionless 
daughters of wit and talent can make lives for them- 
selves, independent of matrimony, and heiress hunters 
have at least the decency to pretend they are in 

In view of the ideas of her times, Jane's ideal. of 
marriage stands out conspicuously. She wanted all 
her heroines to have every probability of happiness in 



the marriage state, and though perhaps she did not 
conscjouslj>'_^.<et'T6" wofk ^^o ^consider what would make 
them so in so many words^JtJl&j^aiarkable-thatcertaio 
p6inls]wHich,'ffom her own observations of the human 
race, were .the best foundations for married happiness, 
are to be found ineyeiy^ jpjie. of Jhe_jnarriages of her 
piThcIpal. characters. The first essential which we have 
already touched upon was suitability of character. 
Poor Marianne Dashwood and the ardent Willoughby 
would have tried each other desperately with the 
vehemence of their enthusiasm ; in six months they 
would have loathed each other as ardently as they had 
loved, therefore Marianne is not allowed to marry 
Willoughby, but mates with Colonel Brandon, the sort 
of man who would exercise an unconscious influence 
over her, teaching her self-control, and who would be 
kindly indulgent to her whims and wishes, not clashing 
with them on his own account 

The second essential, which is fulfilled in every 
case of the principal characters in the novels, is that 
the marriages are real unions^ not those accidental 
associations which are based on imagination. Her men 
and women get to know each other thoroughly by 
constant intercourse, until the faults and virtues, the 
defects and abilities, are clear and plain. Jane kn ew 
t hat real lo ve^ may hf ffin b y attracti on^ but must be 
built upon knowledge* In not a single case is a 
pretty face or a handsome person the reason for a man's 
or woman's falling in love. Darcy considers Elizabeth 
Bennet only "tolerable" whe^rTTie- first sees her, it is 
when he begins to care for her that he notes her " fine 
eyes." Though Catherine Morland was a pretty girl, 
it was not that which won Henry Tilney, but her 
naive adoration of himself, and her sweet sincerity. 
Edmund Bertram runs after Miss Crawford for a time, 


but it is the excellence of Fanny's mind which gives 
him his life's happiness, and so on through all. 

The third essential in Jane's mind was evidently 
that the love of the two sho uld b e mutual. In every 
case her heroine is genuinely in love^Before she gives 
her consent to marriage. Fanny Bertram of course 
knew her own love for Edmund long before his eyes 
were opened to the need he had for her. Anne Elliot 
had bitterly regretted for many weary years the fatal 
compliance with the wishes of her friends which had 
separated her from the man she loved, and when he 
returns only to pay attentions to another, and she 
imagines she has lost him for ever, she still never 
swerves in her loyalty to him. Poor Elinor has the 
mortification of hearing from the lips of a rival that 
Edward Ferrars is engaged to her, but still her choice 
never falters. For women of this kind, women of 
fine character, marriage without love is impossible; in 
the abstract it is not a necessity, as it often seems to 
be to a man; if they cannot have the one man they 
love, they will infinitely prefer to remain single. We 
must admit that, as Anne Elliot says, the power of 
loving longest remains with women, only we should 
amend to the extent of saying with the noblest women. 

Many men hold that woman's love is not essential 
to a happy marriage, so long as they are in love with 
the woman they make their wife they think that her 
love is not necessary. This arises purely from want of 
imagination. They themselves, marrying a woman they 
passionately admire, start with all the glamour and 
glory which suffices to veil the difficult beginnings of a 
menage d deux; but the woman, who enters without 
this help, has to expend an immense amount of patience 
and self-control over wearisome domestic details, which 
would be transformed into pure joy if she also saw 


through a glorified atmosphere. A match where the 
woman does not love is very hard on her. It is, of 
course, perfectly true that the ardent love of a man 
has often won a woman's love in return ; many a happy 
marriage has sprung from this beginning ; but any man 
who is not more selfish than the rest of his sex, should 
try to assure himself that the love is there before 

Of course to a man it is incredible that girls will 
consent to marry when they do not love; why should 
they? One knows it is not always the prospect of a 
home and maintenance, one would scorn to assess woman's 
nature at so low a rate. There is no real explanation, 
though possibly dense ignorance and girlish impulse 
toward the excitement, and the trivial accessories of a 
bride's position, may be the most usual contributory 
causes. If this is so, as woman increases in intelligence 
and reasonable knowledge, that is to say, as she becomes 
more fit to be a real mate to man, so will man find it 
increasingly difficult to persuade her into a one-sided-love 
marriage, oftentimes sq disastrous to both, and at the 
best such a makeshift for What might be. 



JANE AUSTEN'S life was very largely passed among 
her own relations, her visits away from home were 
nearly always to the houses of her brothers. 
In the August of 1796 she went to stay with her 
brother Edward, at Rowling, a little place in Kent, 
near Goodnestone. Edward had been married for some 
time to Elizabeth Bridges, daughter of Sir Brook Bridges 
of Goodnestone. He had, as has been already stated^ 
been adopted by his relative, Mr. Knight of Godmersham 
in Kent and Chawton in Hampshire, and had taken 
his name. This Mr. Knight had died two years 
previously, and left Edward his heir, subject to the 
widow's life-interest, but Mrs. Knight herself loved 
Edward like a son and retired from Godmersham in 
his favour. At this date, however, the family had not 
yet moved there, but continued to live at Rowling. Of 
the pleasant country life at Rowling we get several 
graphic touches. "We were at a ball on Saturday, I 
assure you. We dined at Goodnestone, and in the 
evening danced two country dances and the Boulangeries. 
I opened the ball with Edward Bridges; the other 
couples were Lewis Cage and Harriet, Frank and Louisa, 
Fanny and George. Elizabeth played one country dance. 
Lady Bridges the other, which she made Henry dance 
with her, and Miss Finch played the Boulangeries." 



The Boulangeries seems to have been an innova- 
tion adopted from France, and occasionally formed the 
last figure of a quadrille, which had many variations, 
"either with a * Chassecroise,' or with 'la boulangere,' 
* la corbeille,' * le Moulinet,' or * la ste Simonienne.' " 

Of the couples mentioned above, Lewis Cage had 
married Fanny Bridges; Harriet and Louisa were two 
young unmarried sisters; Frank and Henry, Jane's 
brothers. Henry Austen seems to have been of a 
very unsettled disposition; in Jane's first letter she 
says, — *' Henry is still hankering after the Regulars, and 
as his project of purchasing the adjutancy of the 
Oxfordshire is now over, he has got a scheme in his 
head about getting a lieutenancy and adjutancy in the 
86th., a new raised regiment, which he fancies will be 
ordered to the Cape of Good Hope." 

Later on Henry became Receiver - General for 
Oxfordshire, afterwards he was partner in a bank, and 
when the bank broke in 1 8 1 6, he took Orders, and on 
the death of his brother James he held the living of 
Steventon for a short time until one of his brother 
Edward's younger boys was ready for it. 

After the impromptu evening's entertainment at 
Goodnestone the party walked home under the shade 
of two umbrellas. Another day they dined at 
Nackington, returning by moonlight in two carriages. 

Visits were of long duration in days when getting 
about was so costly and difficult a process ; Jane stayed 
on with her brother until October, and in September 
she records : " Edward and Fly went out yesterday very 
early in a couple of shooting jackets, and came home 
like a couple of bad shots, for they killed nothing at all. 
They are out again to-day, and are not yet returned. 
Delightful sport I They are just come home, Edward 
with his two brace, Frank ^ith his two and a half. 


What amiable young men ! " She also records : " We 
are very busy making Edward's shirts and I am proud 
to say I am the neatest worker of the party"; and 
again, "Little Edward [her brother's eldest boy] was 
breeched yesterday for good and all, and was whipped 
into the bargain." 

This is very small beer, but it suffices to give a sketch 
of the pleasant family life, where half the neighbours 
were related to each other and on cordial terms, where 
entertainments were simple and spontaneous, though it 
was an age that we are accustomed to regard as one 
of the most formal in social history. 

Jane alludes to her difficulties of tipping. " I am 
in great distress. I cannot determine whether I shall 
give Richis half a guinea or only five shillings when I go 
away. Counsel me, most amiable Miss Austen, and 
tell me which will be the most" 
\ We are accustomed to consider our own age as 

lying under the thraldom of tips, as none ever did 
before, but it is nothing to what the end of the eighteenth 
century was in this respect. When people went to 
dinner they were expected to tip the servants, who 
sometimes stood in long rows in the hall waiting the 
customary douceur. 

As for hotels, they were worse than to-day, for it 
must be remembered money was of greater relative 
value. In a letter from a "Constant Reader" to The 
Times in October 1795, the vexed subject of tips is 
discussed — 
I I" If a man who has a horse, puts up at an inn, besides 

the usual bill, he must at least give is. to the waiter, 6d. 
to the chambermaid, 6d. to the ostler, and 6d. to the 
jack-boot, making together 2s. 6d. At breakfast you 
must give at least 6d. between the waiter and Hostler. 
If the traveller only puts up to have a refreshment. 


besides paying for his horses standing he must give 3d. 
to the hostler, at dinner 6d. to the waiter and 3d. to 
the hostler ; at tea 6d. between them, so that he gives 
away in the day 2s. 6d., which, added to the 2s. 6d. for 
the night, makes 5 s. per day on an average to servants./ 

Jane did not expect to be able to return to 
Steventon until about the middle of October, but it 
was necessary to lay plans long before so as to arrange 
if possible for the escort of one of her brothers, as it 
was not thought at all the proper thing for a young lady 
to go by herself on a journey, and considering the 
changes at inn-yards and many stoppages, this is not to 
be wondered at. Just at this time Frank Austen 
received a naval appointment, and had to be up in town 
the next day, September 21, so Jane seized the op* 
portunity to go with him. "As to the mode of our 
travelling to town, I want to go in a stage coach, but 
Frank will not let me." This means of course that they 
would have to travel post, a much more expensive 

The whole subject of travelling is one of the things 
that bring more vividly before us than any other the 
difference of the then and the now. 

In 1755 an Act was passed compelling districts 
all over the country to make turnpike roads and charge 
toll accordingly ; before this date the state of the roads 
had been too terrible for description, and even after it 
road-making progressed but slowly, for it was not until 
the beginning of the nineteenth century that Macadam's 
improvements were adopted. 

Up to 1755 roads had been made certainly after a 
fashion, and many Acts had been passed with the object 
of improving them, but these had not had much effect. 
Even the great Act of 1755 seemed to be of little 
practical efficacy, for between 1760 and 1764 inclusive, 


upwards of four hundred and fifty Acts of Parliament 
were passed in order to effect the formation of new, and 
the repair and alteration of old, highways throughout 
the country, so Parliament certainly cannot be accused 
of regarding the matter with indifference. Many are 
the complaints of travellers. Arthur Young in his well- 
known Tour mentions the roads frequently : ^' Much 
more to be condemned is the execrable muddy road 
from Bury to Sudbury in Suffolk, in which I was forced 
to move as slow as in any unmended lane in Wales. 
For ponds of liquid dirt and a scattering of loose flints 
just sufficient to lame every horse that moves near them, 
with the addition of cutting vile grips across the road, 
under pretence of letting water off, but without the 
effect, altogether render at least twelve of these sixteen 
miles as infamous a turnpike as ever was travelled. 
Their method of mending the last mentioned road I 
found excessively absurd, for in parts of it the sides are 
higher than the middle, and the gravel they bring in is 
nothing more but a yellow loam with a few stones in it, 
through which the wheels of a light chaise cut as easily 
as in sand, with the addition of such floods of watery 
mud as renders the road, on the whole, inferior to 
nothing but an unmended Welsh lane. From Chepstow 
to the half way house between Newport and Cardiff 
they continue mere rocky lanes, full of hugeous stones 
as big as one's horse, and abominable holes." 

Though the stones as '^ big as one's horse " must be 
allowed for as the pardonable exaggeration of a 
traveller's tale, it is true that the method of road 
mending previous to Macadam was nothing more than 
setting down enormous stones to be crushed in by 
passing wheels, but as they were not set close, the wheels 
went bumping into the mud between, and the force of 
the jolt instead of setting the stones pushed them out of 


position ever worse and worse. "Where they are 
mending, as they call it, you travel over a bed of loose 
stones none of less size than an octavo volume, and 
where not mended 'tis like a staircase." 

As for the means of conveyance over these vile 
highways, before the making of turnpike-roads waggons 
had been the usual method, and flying coaches, as they 
were at first called, were considered a great improve- 
ment; however, coach fares were high, and even after 
the introduction of coaches many people who were unable 
to afford them still travelled by the slow-going waggon. 

This mode of proceeding must have been inex- 
pressibly wearisome; here is an account of a journey 
made by such means from London to Greenwich — 

"We were twenty-four passengers within side and 
nine without It was my lot to sit in the middle with 
a very lusty woman on one side, and a very thin man on 
the other. ' Open the window,' said the former and she 
had a child on her lap whose hands were all besmeared 
with gingerbread. ' It can't be opened,' said a little 
prim coxcomb, 'or I shall get cold.' 'But I say it 
shall, sir,' said a butcher who sat opposite to him, and 
the butcher opened it ; but as he stood, or rather bent 
forward to do this, the caravan came into a rut and the 
butcher's head, by the suddenness of the jolt, came into 
contact with that of the woman who sat next to me, and 
made her nose bleed. He begged her pardon and she 
gave him a slap on the face that sounded through the 
whole caravan. Two sailors that were seated near the 
helm of this machine, ordered the driver to cast anchor 
at the next public house. He did so and the woman 
next to me called for a pint of ale which she offered to 
me, after she had emptied about a pint of it, observing, 
* that as how she loved ale mightily.' I could not drink, 
at which she took offence. ... A violent dispute now 


arose between two stout-looking men, the one a re- 
cruiting sergeant, the other a gentleman's coachman, 
about the Rights of Man. . . . Another dispute after- 
wards was about politics, which was carried on with such 
warmth as to draw the attention of the company to the 
head of the caravan, where the combatants sat wedged 
together like two pounds of Epping butter, whilst a 
child incessantly roared at the opposite side, and the 
mother abused the two politicians for frightening her 
babe. The heat was now so great that all the windows 
were opened, and with the fresh air entered clouds of 
dust, for the body of the machine is but a few inches 
from the surface of the road." 

If one can imagine this kind of thing continuing for 
hour after hour, while one's bones ached with the cramp, 
and one was stupefied with the noise and smell, one 
gains some idea of the delights of waggon travelling. 

We find an account of the roads actually in Hamp- 
shire, Jane Austen's own county, in the correspondence 
of Lady Newdigate {The Cheverels of Cheverel Manor), 
In giving an account of going from Arbury (Wsuivick) 
to Stanstead near Portsmouth in 1795, she says:!** The 
sisters were decidedly for going through Reading and 
Famham, but Mr. Cotton, from consultation of maps and 
conversation with postillions, believed it would be full as 
good and pleasant and a much shorter road to go by 
Basingstoke and Alton. In the first of these places we 
found it 19 miles instead of 15, and were informed 
that instead of ten miles good turnpike to Alton there 
was not above three miles made, and the rest so cut 
as to be impassable for such a carriage as mine; in 
short that we had twelve miles across country road . . . 
the consequence was that we had eight miles bad road 
out of 16, and was an hour in the dark. But the 
poneys performed wonders."^ 


Lady Newd^ate also ghes the cost of this joomey, 
which is interestmg: *We paid I4d. per mile great 
part of the way for the chaisehorses^ and 6d. all the way 
for the saddle horse; the whole, baits and sleepings 
included, conies to above j£^24 to this fJace." 

On the way to Brighton, two years later, she sajrs, 
** I never saw this road so rotted, so heavy, or so 
deep. It was with difficulty my poor pooeys could 
drag us." 

We have therefore a tolerable notion of the fiitigues 
attendant on a joumqr in those days. 

Another drawback was, that if one wished to travel 
by coach instead of going post, one could not always be 
sure of a place unless booked beforehand. This kind of 
thing frequently happened — 

" I was called up early — to be ready for the coach, 
but judge my disappointment and chagrin, when on my 
approach I found it chock-full. I petitioned, reasoned, 
urged and entreated, but all to no effect. I could not 
make any impression on the obdurate souls, who, proud 
and sulky, kept easy and firm possession of their seats, 
and hardly deigned to answer, when I requested per- 
mission to squeeze in. I was hoisted on the coach box 
as the only alternative; but on the first movement of 
the vehicle, had it not been for the arm of the coachman, 
I should have been instantly under the wheels in the 
street I was chucked into a basket as a place of more 
safety, though not of ease or comfort, where I suflered 
most severely from the jolting, particularly over the 
stones ; it was most truly dreadful and made one f / [ 
suffer almost equal to sea sickness." (Tate Wilkinson^ 

This basket was actually a basket slung on for the 
purpose of canying luggage, though it was also used 
for passengers, and sometimes filled with people in spite 


of its discomfort, because seats here were charged at a 
low price. 

Richard Thomson, in Tales of an Antiquary^ gives 
a very good word-picture of a stage coach : " Stage 
coaches were constructed principally of a dull black 
leather, thickly studded by way of ornament with broad 
black head nails tracing out the panels, in the upper 
tier of which were four oval windows with heavy red 
wooden frames or leathern curtains. The roofs of the 
coaches in most cases rose in a swelling curve. Behind 
the coach was the immense basket, stretching far and 
wide beyond the body, to which it was attached by long 
iron bars or supports passing beneath it The wheels 
of these old carriages were large, massive, ill-formed and 
usually of a red colour, and the three horses that were 
affixed to the whole machine were all so far parted 
from it by the great length of their traces that it was 
with no little difficulty that the poor animals dragged 
their unwieldly burden along the road.'^ 

The accidents attendant on coach journeys were 
many and various, and the badness of the roads was the 
principal cause. In Under England's Flag^ the auto- 
biography of Captain Charles Boothby, R.E., we have 
this account of what happened to him in 1805 when he 
first left home — 

" Down to Portsmouth then I went on the outside 
of the mail, in the highest health and the ardent spirits 
of youth, spirits that made, I suppose, even my body 
buoyant and elastic, for the Mail overturned in the night 
and threw me on the road without giving me so much 
as a scratch or a bruise. It was about twenty miles 
from London when we met a team of horses standing 
in a slant direction on the road, the night very foggy 
with misting rain, and the lamps not penetrating further 
into the mist than the rumps of the wheelers. The 



coachman, to avoid the waggon, turned suddenly out 
of the way and ran up the bank. Finding the coach 
staggering, I got up, with my face to the horses, hardly 
daring to suppose it possible that the Mail could over- 
turn, when the unwieldly monster was on one wheel, 
and then down it came with a terminal bang. During 
my descent I had just time to hope that I might 
escape with the fracture of one or two legs, and 
then found myself on my two shoulders, very pleased 
with the novelty and ease of the journey. I got up 
and spied the monster with his two free wheels whirling 
with great velocity, but quite compact and still in 
the body, and as soon as I had shaken my feathers 
and opened my senses I began to think of the one 
female and three males in the inside, whom I supposed 
to be either dead or asleep. I ran to open the door, 
when the guard, having thought of the same thing, did 
it for me, and we then took the folks out one by 
one, like pickled ghirkins or anything else preserved 
in a jar, by putting our hands to the bottom ; we 
found that the inmates were only stupefied, though 
all had bruises of some kind, and one little gentleman 
complained that he was nipped in the loins by the 
mighty pressure of his neighbour, who had sat upon 
him some time after the door was opened to recollect 
himself or to give thanks for his escape." 

Coaches did not as a rule run on Sundays, so 
passengers whose journeys were to extend over several 
days had to take care to start early in the week if 
they did not wish to pay expenses at an inn during 
the Sabbath. 

This rule was, however, not stringently observed, 
as M. Grosley found when he landed in England 
on his tour of observation — 

"The great multitude of passengers with which 






Dover was then crowded, formed a reason for dispensing 
with a law of the police, by which public carriages 
are in England, forbid to travel on Sundays. I there- 
fore set out on a Sunday with seven more passengers 
in two carriages called flying machines. These vehicles, 
(/^ which are drawn by six horses, go twenty-eight leagues 
in a day from Dover to London for a single guinea. 
Servants are entitled to a place for half that money, 
V either behind the coach or upon the coach box, 
^ which has three places. A vast repository, under 
this seat, which is very lofty, holds the passengers' 
luggage, which is paid for separately. The coachmen, 
whom we changed every time with our horses, were 
/ lusty, well made men, dressed in good cloth." 
' Among the advantages of travelling on a Sunday 

when coaches were not expected, he enumerates that 
*' we should meet none of those gentry who are called 
collectors of the highway, and of whom there is a great 
number upon the road ; in fact we saw none of that 
sort, but such as were hanging upon gibbets at the road 
side; there they dangle, dressed from head to foot, 
and with wigs upon their heads." 

The Austen women do not seem at any time to 
have travelled by coach, but always post, a much more 
comfortable method, ensuring privacy, though it also 
had its disadvantages, as when one arrived at an inn 
requiring change of horses only to find the Marquess 
of Carabbas had passed on before with a whole retinue 
of attendants, taking every horse in the stable, and the 
second comers were therefore compelled to wait until 
the return of the jaded steeds, and to use them again 
when the poor beasts had only had half the rest they 
deserved. The keeping of horses was a necessary 
branch of the business of every inn-keeper on the 
high-road, a branch which is now seldom called for. 


so that it is only at very large establishments, or those 
in the most out-of-the-way districts where trains come 
not, that ''posting in all its branches" forms part of 
the landlord's boast. 

Though one lady could not very well go alone on 
a journey, for two ladies to travel together was con- 
sidered quite proper. In 1798, Jane and her mother 
returning from Godmersham managed for themselves 
very well. Jane says, " You have already heard from 
Daniel, I conclude, in what excellent time we reached 
and quitted Sittingboume and how very well my mother 
bore her journey thither. . . , She was a very little 
fatigued on her arrival at this place, has been quite 
refreshed by a comfortable dinner, and now seems quite 
stout It wanted five minutes of twelve when we left 
Sittingboume, from whence we had a famous pair of 
horses, which took us to Rochester in an hour and a 
quarter; the postboy seemed determined to show my 
mother that Kentish drivers were not always tedious. 

''Our next stage was not quite so expeditiously 
performed ; the road was heavy and our horses very 
indifferent However we were in such good time, and 
my mother bore her journey so well, that expedition 
was of little importance to us ; and as it was, we were 
very little more than two hours and a half coming 
hither, and it was scarcely past four when we stopped 
at the inn. My mother took some of her bitters at 
Ospringe, and some more at Rochester, and she ate 
some bread several times. We sat down to dinner 
a little after five, and had some beefsteak and a boiled 
fowl, but no oyster sauce." 

Though Jane refused to avail herself of the very 
present excitement of highwaymen in any of her novels, 
she might legitimately have done so, for these perils were 
by no means imaginary; the newspapers of the latter 


part of the eighteenth century are full of accounts of 
these pests, who were seldom caught 

Mrs. Lybbe Powys says — 

^' The conversation was for some time on a subject 
you'd hardly imagine — robbery. Postchaises had been 
stopped from Hodges to Henley, about three miles ; but 
though the nights were dark we had flambeaux. Miss 
Pratt and I thought ourselves amazingly lucky ; we were 
in their coach, ours next, and the chaise behind that, 
robbed. It would have been silly to have lost one's 
diamonds so totally unexpected, and diamonds it seems 
they, came after, more in number than mine indeed." 

The Duke of York and one of his brothers were 
robbed of watches, purses, etc., when they were returning 
late at night in a hackney coach along Hay Hill. 

In 1786, Horace Walpole mentions, "The mail from 
France was robbed last night in Pall Mall, at half an 
hour after eight, yes ! in the great thoroughfare of London, 
and within call of the guard at the Palace. The chaise 
had stopped, the harness was cut, and the portmanteau 
was taken out of the chaise itself." 

The travellers who had to give up their valuables 
were numberless, and many ladies took to carrying 
secondary purses full of false money, which, with 
hypocritical tears they handed out on compulsion. There 
was really not much risk in the business of a highway- 
man, if a man had a good horse and good nerve. The 
poor citizens he robbed were not fighting men, and 
though the penalty of hanging was the award if my 
well-mannered and gallant gentleman were caught, yet 
his chances of escape were many. The wonder is not 
that highwaymen were so numerous, but that, with the 
cumbersome methods of capturing and dealing with them, 
any of them were ever caught at all. 



THE end of the eighteenth century was an age when 
merit in literature was an Open Sesame to the very 
best society that the capital could supply. An author 
who had brought out a work a little above the average 
was received and ffited, not only by the literary set, who 
rapidly passed her or him on from one to another, but 
by the persons of the highest social rank also. London 
was so much smaller then, that there was not room for 
all the grades and sets that now run parallel without ever 
overlapping. When anyone was made welcome they 
were free of all the best society at once, and the ease 
with which some people slipped into the position of 
social lions on the strength of very small performance is 
little short of wonderful. When Hannah More first 
visited London, in 1774, she was plunged at once into 
the society of men of letters, of wit, of learning, and of 
rank. Her plays, which to our taste are intolerably stiff 
and dull, were accepted by Garrick, she became his 
personal friend, and he introduced her to everyone whose 
acquaintance was worth having. The Garricks' house 
became her second home, and she met Bishops by the 
half dozen, visited the Lord Chamberlain at Apsley 
House, and was on familiar terms with Sheridan, Johnson, 
Walpole, Reynolds, and many another whose name is 
still a household word in England. 


In those days the same people met again and again 
at each other's houses, more after the fashion of a country 
town than of that of London at present. Indeed they 
seem to have spent the whole day and most of the night 
running after each other. There is one custom which 
we must all be thankful exists no longer, the intolerable 
fashion of morning calls. Calls are bad enough now as 
custom decrees, but we are at least free from the terror 
of people dropping in upon us before the day's work is 
begun. When staying in Northumberland Miss Mitford 
remarks, '' Morning calls are here made so early, that one 
morning three different people called before we had done 
breakfast" Hannah More looked on a morning visit 
as an immorality, yet she breakfasted with a Bishop, 
afterwards going to an evening party with another on the 
same dayl She, being of a sensible mind, soon grew 
tired of the ceaseless talk, though much of it may have 
been good stuff and worthy of preservation, and she 
rejoiced when she could get a day to herself, and deny 
herself to everyone. 

After Garrick's death, when she came to stay with his 
brave but heart-broken widow she lived very quietly. 
" My way of life is very different from what it used to be. 
After breakfast I go to my own apartment for several 
hours, where I read, write and work ; very seldom letting 
anybody in. At four we dine. We have the same 
elegant table as usual, but I generally confine myself to 
one single dish of meat. I have taken to drink half a 
glass of wine. At six we have coffee ; at eight tea, when 
we have sometimes, a dowager or two of quality. At 
ten we have sallad and fruits." 

This was in 1779, and two years previously her play 
Percy had been brought out with extraordinary success ; 
she says of it herself, " far beyond my expectation," and 
it produced more excitement than any tragedy had done 


for many years. The autfaof^s r^^its, sale ct copy, etc., 
amounted to near six hmidrBd pounds, and ^ as my fiiend 
Mr. Garrick has been so good as to lay it out for me on 
the best security and at five per cent, it makes a decent 
little addition to my small income. C^adell gave jf 150, 
a very handsome price, with conditional promises. He 
confesses that it had had a very great sale and that he 
shall get a good deal of money by it. The first impres- 
sion is near four thousand and the second is almost 

It is customary to think of Hannah More as so quiet 
and Quakerish that the idea of her writing plays and 
living a gay society life is new to many people, but the 
seriou«iess and retirement came later. 

Considering how easily the heights of celebrity were 
stormed at that time, and especially by a woman, it is 
most remarkable that Jane received no encouragement, 
and had no literary society, and not one literary corre- 
spondent in the whole of her lifetime. Of course her 
first novel was not published until 181 1, and then 
anonymously, with the simple inscription " By a Lady " 
on the title-page, yet it sold well and became very 
popular, and though no effort was made to proclaim her 
the authoress certainly there was no rigid attempt to 
hide her personality. Before the publication of Emma 
her identity was known, for she was requested to dedicate 
this book to the Prince Regent, as will be related in due 
course. And this was the only recognition of any public 
sort she received. Many of her contemporaries were 
brought up in a sort of hotbed of intellect, and associated 
with men of talent and distinction from their cradles — 
what a wonderful quickening and impetus must this 
have brought with it! Jane had none of these ad- 
vantages, her genius was her own entirely, and her 
material of the slightest; she had no contemporaries of 


original talent with which to exchange ideas, to strike 
out sparks or receive suggestions. She did not mingle 
with people of her own calibre at all. Herein Miss 
Bumey had an immense advantage over her, from her 
babyhood she was surrounded by men and women of 
distinction. Her father, himself an author and possessing 
musical talent, drew to his house all sorts of persons. 
Macaulay says, '' It would be tedious to recount the 
names of all the men of letters and artists whom Fanny 
Burney had an opportunity of seeing and hearing. 
Hundreds of remarkable persons had passed in review 
before her, English, French, German, Italian, lords and 
fiddlers, deans of cathedrals and managers of theatres, 
travellers leading about newly caught savages, and 
singing-women escorted by deputy-husbands." She was 
fdted, caressed and brought forward until she accepted 
the appointment at the court which condemned her to 
a weary round of dull duties, and must have made her 
life appear like a draught of ditch-water after the 
heady champagne to which she was accustomed. 

But the London of 1 8 1 1 , when we have the first 
record of Jane's visiting it, was not what it had been 
thirty }rears before. Johnson was dead, Walpole was 
dead, Garrick was dead, Reynolds was dead, Sheridan 
living but sunk in debt and disease; of the brilliant 
band that Hannah More had known few were left 
Doctor Johnson had died fourteen years previously, when 
Jane was only nine years old. Miss Burney had had 
not only his friendship but his help in the revision of 
her works — perhaps a doubtful privilege. To quote 
Lord Macaulay again: "When she wrote her early 
journals, and her novel of Evelina^ her style was not 
indeed brilliant or energetic ; but it was easy, clear, and 
free from all offensive faults. When she wrote Cecilia 
she aimed higher. She had then lived much in a circle 


of which Johnson was the centre ; and she was herself one 
of his most submissive worshippers. ... In an evil hour 
the author of Evelina took the Rambler for her model. 
She had her style. It was a tolerably good one ; she 
determined to throw it away to adopt a style in which 
she could attain excellence only by achieving an almost 
miraculous victory over nature and over habit. In Cecilia 
the imitation of Johnson, though not always in the best 
taste, is sometimes eminently happy. There were people 
who whispered that Johnson had assisted his young 
friend and that the novel owed all its finest passages to 
his hand. This was merely the fabrication of envy." 

But after the death of Johnson, " she had to write 
in Johnson's manner without Johnson's aid. The 
consequence was that in Camilla every passage which 
she meant to be fine is detestable ; and that the book 
has been saved from condemnation only by the admir- 
able spirit and force of those scenes in which she was 
content to be familiar." 

After he had read Camilla^ Walpole says of Miss 
Burney : " Alas I She had reversed experience which 
I have long thought reverses its own utility by coming 
at the wrong end of our life when we do not want it. 
This author knew the world and penetrated characters 
before she had stepped over the threshold ; now she has 
seen so much of it she has little or no insight at all." 

It was therefore, perhaps, lucky for Jane Austen 
that she was not \ so overshadowed by the direct 
personality of a mighty man as to lose her clear, bright 
English style. Her admiration for Miss Burney's work 
was decided and clearly expressed, and she was among 
the first subscribers to Camilla in 1796. 

Though Jane never came into contact with the men 
and women who made literature in her day, she took a 
keen interest in their works, and was a great novel reader. 


She says in one place, " As an inducement to subscribe 
(to her libraiy) Mrs. Martin tells me that her collection 
is not to consist only of novels but of every kind of 
literature. She might have spared this pretension to our 
family, who are great novel readers and not ashamed of 
being so." 

There are frequent references to novels in her 
letters : " We have got Fits - Albini^ my father has 
bought it against my private wishes, for it does not quite 
satisfy my feelings that we should purchase the only one 
of Egerton's works of which his family are ashamed." 

In another place : ** To set against your new novel, 
of which nobody ever heard before, and perhaps never 
may again, we have got Ida of Athens by Miss Owenson, 
which must be very clever because it was written the 
authoress says in three months. We have only read the 
preface yet, but her Irish girl does not make me expect 
much. If the warmth of her language could affect the 
body it might be worth reading this weather." [January.] 

There were many writers thought highly of at the 
time of their writing, who have yet dropped into oblivion 
to all but the student ; among these is Jane Porter, bom 
a year later than Jane Austen, who published her first 
romance, Thaddeus of Warsaw^ in 1803, this was a 
great success, and immediately ran through several 
editions; it was followed in 1810 by her chef (Tosuvre 
The Scottish Chiefs. In 1 809, when it had just come 
out, and was anonymous, Hannah More's Ccdebs in Search 
I of a Wife came into Cassandra's hands. 

Jane writes of it : '* You have by no means raised my 
curiosity after Caleb. My disinclination for it before 
was affected but now it is real. I do not like the 
evangelicals. Of course I shall be delighted when I 
read it like other people, but till I do, I dislike it" 
And in her next letter she replies to her sister, '' I am 



not at all ashamed about the name of the novel, having 
been guilty of no insult towards your handwriting ; the 
diphthong I always saw, but knowing how fond you 
were of adding a vowel wherever you could, I attributed 
it to that alone, and the knowledge of the truth does 
the book no service; the only merit it could have was 
in the name of Caleb, which has an honest unpretending 
sound, but in Coelebs there is pedantry and affectation. 
Is it written only to classical scholars ? " 

Ccdebs itself it must be admitted is dull, unquali- 
fiedly dull. Jane Austen's own books are not novels of 
plot, but they radiate plot in comparison. In Ccdebs a 
procession of persons stalks solemnly through the pages ; 
they never reveal themselves by action, but are described 
as by a Greek chorus by the other characters in conver- 
sation or by the author, while long dry disquisitions on 
religion fill half, or more than half, of the book, and 
Coelebs himself is a prig of the first water. Yet 
there are certain little touches which indicate a know- 
ledge of human nature, such as that of the man who 
has married a beauty, " Who had no one recommenda- 
tion but beauty. To be admired by her whom all his 
acquaintance admired gratified his amour-propre^ i 

A book called Self Control^ which appeared in 18 10, 
by Mary Brunton, the wife of a Scotch minister, had a 
fair measure of success, and was reprinted as lately as 
1852. Jane speaks very slightingly of it: "I am 
looking over Self Control again, and my opinion is j 
confirmed of its being an excellently meant, elegantly 
written work, without anything of nature or probability 
in it. I declare I do not know whether Laura's passage 
down the American river is not the most natural 
possible every-day thing she ever does." Miss Mitford 
in regard to this book quotes the opinions of two men, 
one of whom said it ought to be burnt by the common 



hangman and the other that it ought to be written in 
letters of gold, which shows that public opinion was as 
various in those days as it is in these. In 1 807, Jane 
mentions Clarentine, a novel of Sarah Bumey's, who 
was a younger sister of the famous Miss Bumey ; though 
the same author brought out another novel later, it was 
evidently only because she followed in her sister's wake, 
and not from any inherent ability. Jane says, "We 
are reading Clarentine and are surprised to find how 
foolish it is. I remember liking it much less on a 
second reading than at the first, and it does not bear a 
third at all. It is full of unnatural conduct and forced 
difficulties, without striking merit of any kind." 

But these impressions of long-forgotten books are 
hardly worth recording, except as specimens of the 
quantities of worthless novels to be had at the libraries 

Samuel Rogers says, " Lane made a large fortune by 
the immense quantity of trashy novels which he sent 
forth from the Minerva press. I perfectly well remember 
the splendid carriage in which he used to ride, and his 
footmen with their cockades and gold-headed canes. 
Now-a-days as soon as a novel has had its run, and 
is beginning to be forgotten, out comes an edition of 
it as a standard novel." 

In Miss Mitford's Life is given a list of the books 
which she had from the circulating library in a month, 
and which she presumably read, when she was a girl 
just back from school. It is here quoted as, with one 
or two exceptions, the titles tell the style of work in 

" St. Margaret's Cave ; St. Claire of the Isles ; Scourge 
of Conscience; Emma Corbett; Poetical Miscellany; 
Vincenza ; A Sailor's Friendship and a Sailor's Love ; 
The Castles of Athlin and Dumbayn ; Polycratia ; Travels 


in Africa ; Novice of St. Dominick ; Clarentina ; Leonora ; 
Count de Valmont ; Letters of a Hindu Rajah ; Fourth 
Vol. of Canterbury Tales; The Citizen's Quarter; 
Amazement; Midnight Weddings; Robert and Adela; 
The Three Spaniards ; De Clifford." 

In his History of Eighteenth Century Literature 
Edmund Gosse saysr "The flourishing period of the 
eighteenth century novel lasted exactly twenty-five 
years, during which time we have to record the publica- 
tion of no less than fifteen eminent works of fiction. 
The fifteen are naturally divided into three groups. 
The first contains Pamela^ Joseph Andrews^ David 
Simple (Sarah Fielding) and Jonathan Wild. In these 
books the art is still somewhat crude, and the science 
of fiction incompletely understood. After a silence 
of five years we reach the second and greatest section 
of this central period, during which there appeared in 
quick succession, Clarissa^ Roderick Random^ Tom J ones ^ 
Peregrine Pickle y Amelia and Sir Charles Grandison . . . 
there followed another silence of five years, and then 
were issued each on the heels of the other, Tristram 
Shandy^ RasselaSj Chrysaly The Castle of Otranto and 
714^ Vicar of Wakefield — five years later still — Humphrey 
Clinker^ and then, with one or two such exceptions as 
Evelina and Caleb Williams^ no great novel appeared 
again in England for forty years until in 1 8 1 1 the 
new school of fiction was inaugurated by Sense and 

Though we may not agree entirely with Mr. Gosse's 
classification, this paragraph is suggestive. 

As we have seen in her brother's record, Jane's 
favourites in prose and poetry respectively were Johnson 
and Cowper. These two are mentioned in one sentence 
of hers: "We have got Boswell's Tour to the Hebrides ^\ 
and are to have his Life of Johnson ; and as some 


money will yet remain in Burdon's hands, it is to be 
laid out in the purchase of Cowper's works " 

She warmly admired Cowper, which is hardly 
wonderful, for, with some manifest differences, Cowper 
was trying to do in poetry what she did in prose. He 
was utterly lacking, of course, in her light vivacity of 
touch and sense of humour, but he did genuinely try 
to describe what he saw, not what he merely knew by 
hearing. The green fields and full rivers of the Olney 
country are depicted with fidelity to detail and clearness 
of line. Cowper was bom in 173 1, but his first volume 
of verse was not published until 1782, and it was not 
until The Task appeared a year or two later, with John 
Gilpin in the same volume, that he really came to his own. 

In 1798, Jane writes: **My father reads Cowper 
to us in the morning to which I listen when I can." 
This implies no disparagement of the poet, but merely 
that her numerous household duties did not always allow 
her time to listen. In Morland's picture, "Domestic 
Happiness," we have a scene which helps us to realise 
the family group at these readings. The mother and 
daughter in their caps, with elbow-sleeves and white 
kerchiefs, are dressed as Jane and her mother must 
have been, and the plain simplicity of the part of the 
room shown is quite in accordance with the rectory 

Another of Jane's favourite poets was Crabbe. 
Crabbe and Cowper are both rather heavy reading, 
and of both it may be said that their poetry is not 
poetical, but they are honestly seeking after truth and 
thus they attracted Jane Austen. They were amongst 
the earliest of the natural school which used the method 
of realism. Crabbe had a bitter struggle to obtain a 
hearing, but his struggle was over before 1796. Burke 
had taken him up, and in those days much depended 



on a patron. In 1781 he had published The Library^ 
two years after The Village^ and two years later again 
came The Newspaper^ and then he did not bring out 
anything more until 1 807. 

It is, of course, very difficult to give any picture of 
contemporary literature in Jane Austen's time without 
degenerating into mere strings of names. The fact that 
she herself came in contact with no one of the first rank 
in literature prevents any of the characters from being 
woven into her life. The books she mentions as having 
read are a mere drop in the ocean compared with the 
books which came out in her time, and which she prob- 
ably, in some cases almost certainly, read. It was a 
brilliant age as regards writing. Perhaps the best way 
to give some general idea of those writers not already 
mentioned will be to divide the time into three sections ; 
and, without any attempt at being exhaustive, to mention 
generally the leading names among the writers who 
lived on into her epoch, but whose best work had been 
published before her time; those who actually were 
contemporary in the sense that their books, by which 
their names are known, were published in her lifetime ; 
and those whose names had not begun to be known 
when she died, though the owners were born in her 

First, then, those whose work was done ; foremost 
among these was Johnson, who has already been men- 

Walpole was considerably past middle-age at her 
birth, and died in 1797 ; Wesley's collected Works came 
out in 1 77 1, and he died in 1791 ; Adam Smith preceded 
him by a year. 

The seventies in the eighteenth century produced 
numerous brilliant men and women whose names still 
live ; besides Jane Austen herself, we have Sir Walter 


Scott) Hazlitt, Sydney Smith, Lamb, Sir Humphry Davy, 
Coleridge, Southey, Wordsworth, Hogg, Thomas Moore, 
and Thomas Campbell, who were all bom in this decade, 
though, as the development of a writer differs enormously 
in growth, some of them were much later in making 
their appearance in print than others. Among the 
better known names of women novelists not already 
mentioned we have Miss Edgeworth, Jane Austen's 
senior by eight years, whose first novel. Castle Rackrent^ 
was published anonymously in 1 800. That Jane knew 
and admired her work is obvious from the fact that she 
sent her a copy of Emma for a present on its publication. 
Mrs. Inchbald, born in 1753, ^^ ^^ ^^^^ known as an 
actress, her Simple Story ^ by which she is best remembered, 
was published in 1791. Mrs. Radcliffe, whose romances 
induced Jane Austen to write Northanger Abbey in 
mockery, was very busy between 1789 and 1797, during 
which time she published five novels, including her 
famous Mysteries of Udolpho in 1794. Joanna Baillie 
published a volume of verse in 1 790, and her first volume 
of plays in 1798; though almost forgotten now, she 
was taken very seriously in her time, and her play De 
Montfort was produced at Drury Lane in 1 800 by Mrs. 
Siddons and Kemble. Anna Seward, who was born in 
1 747, lived to 1 809 ; she, like Hannah More, was far 
more praised and valued than any of her poor little 
productions warranted. 

Sheridan brought out his famous play The Rivals in 
the year of Jane's birth ; it was at first a dead failure, 
but, nothing daunted, he cut it about and altered it, and 
when reproduced two years subsequently it attained 
success at once. The same year saw The School for 
Scandal^ and the following one 714^ Critic. In this year 
also the first volume of Gibbon's great History appeared. 

Burns, who had written some of his best work while 


Jane was still a child, died in 1796, and the brilliant 
Burke the succeeding year. 

Just to give some general idea of the wonderful 
fruitfulness of this epoch it may also be mentioned 
that Samuel Rogers' Pleasures of Memory came out in 
1792; Lyrical Ballads^ including Coleridge's Ancient 
Mariner and some of Wordsworth's poems, in 1798; 
Campbell's Pleasures of Hope in 1799. 

Byron was thirteen years younger than Jane," yet 
his precocity was so great that his first book, Hours of 
Idleness^ was produced in 1 807. The first two cantos 
of Childe Harold followed in 1 8 1 2, but the whole poem 
was not completed until Jane was in her grave; the 
Giaour^ Corsair^ etc., she must have known as new books 
a year or two before her death. 

Southey's Thalaba came out in the first year of the 
new century, and Thomas Moore published the first of 
his Irish Melodies in 1 807. 

Scott's literary career began with the publication of 
a translation of Burger's " Lenore " in 1 799, between that 
date and 1814 his poems appeared at intervals, and in 
1 814 his first great novel Waverley. Though it was 
anonymous, Jane seems to have discovered the secret of 
the authorship, for she writes: "Walter Scott has no 
business to write novels, especially good ones. It is not 
fair. He has fame and profit enough as a poet and 
ought not to be taking the bread out of other people's 
mouths. I do not mean to like Waverl^ if I can help 
it, but I fear I must." But she was not the only one to 
make such a conjecture, for Miss Mitford having read 
Waverley also imputes it unhesitatingly to him, she says, 
" If there be any belief in internal evidence it must be 
his." Judging by these two specimens, the secret of 
Scott's anonymity was not the great mystery it is 
generally imagined to have been. 


The third period, that of the great men who were 
actually contemporary with Jane Austen, though she was 
unconscious of their existence, as they did not win their 
laurels until after her death, is of course much less 
interesting, and may be quickly dismissed, such names 
as those of Lingard and Hallam among historians; 
Mill, Hazlitt, and De Quincey belong by right of birth 
to an earlier epoch, though their works place them in 

Miss Ferrier and Miss Mitford, too, were not much 
younger than Jane Austen, but neither had brought out 
anything noticeable before her death. Miss Ferrier's 
first novel, Marriage^ made its appearance in 1 8 1 8 ; and 
though Miss Mitford had written poems, her Our 
Village first appeared in the Lady's Magazine only in 
1 819. As we have seen, Miss Mitford was a scholar 
at the same school as Jane Austen, though many 
years later. She was also a native of Jane's county, 

In the last decade of the eighteenth century were 
bom among poets: Shelley, Keats, Hood, Keble, and 
Mrs. Hemans ; among historians, Grote, Alison, Napier, 
Carlyle, and Thirlwall ; among men of science, Faraday 
and Lyell ; and among novelists, Marryat. 

In the beginning of the nineteenth century we have 
a string of great names ; a trio of poets : Tennyson, 
Longfellow, and Browning; men of science such as 
Darwin; historians such as Macaulay; novelists in 
numbers, such as Dickens, Thackeray, Charles Reade, 
Harrison Ainsworth, Bulwer Lytton, and TroUope; 
statesmen such as Gladstone and Disraeli. 

Perhaps no forty years that could have been chosen 
at any period of English history would have covered 
such a variety of talent, and that of such a high order, as 
was given to the world during Jane Austen's brief life. 


And if she did not know personally the men whose 
names have lived with her own, at all events she drew 
from their works inspiration and knowledge, and she 
herself was not by any means the least among so 
mighty a company. 


WHEN Jane returned home in October, after her 
pleasant visit to Godmersham, she began her 
first real novel. She was then nearly twenty-one, and 
the girlish scribblings in which she had delighted began 
to be shaped into something more coherent. This very 
visit, with all its bright intercourse, all its pleasant 
variety, — for she had been thrown among a set of county 
people of better social standing than those she usually 
saw, — may have quickened the germ, and been the cause 
of her development The book was at first called First 
Impressions^ and under this title she herself frequently 
refers to it ; but some time later she re-christened it by 
the name under which it was published. 

The idea that the name Pride and Prejudice was 
suggested by some sentences at the end of Cecilia has been 
mooted, and though arguments against this supposition 
have been found, it appears extremely probable. For in 
Cecilia it is declared, " The whole of this unfortunate affair 
has been the result of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE," 
which last words are repeated twice on the same page, 
each time in large type so that they catch the eye. 
Cecilia itself might well have borne this title in reference 
to the pride and prejudice of the Delvile family. The 
book was published in 1786, and we know that Jane 
had a great admiration for Miss Bumey's work. In re- 



reading it some time subsequently it may very easily have 
struck her that " Pride and Prejudice " was an improve- 
ment on her own more common-place title, and there 
was nothing to prevent her adopting it The repetition 
of two striking qualities and the alliteration may further 
have given rise to Sense and Sensibility^ which also 
replaced an earlier title of Elinor and Marianne. 

Pride and Prejudice was apparently written solely 
to gratify the instincts of the writer, without any thought 
of publication. But after it was completed, a year later, 
November 1 797, Jane's father wrote for her to the well- 
known publisher Cadell as follows : — 

" Sir, — I have in my possession a manuscript novel 
comprising 3 vols, about the length of Miss Burney's 
Evelina. As I am well aware of what consequence it 
is that a work of this sort should make its first appear- 
ance under a respectable name, I apply to you. I shall 
be much obliged therefore if you will inform me whether 
you choose to be concerned in it, what will be the 
expense of publishing it at the author's risk, and what 
you will venture to advance for the property of it, 
if on perusal it is approved of. Should you give any 
encouragement I will send you the work." 

This proposal, modest as it is, was rejected by return 
of post. One would have thought that the success of 
Mbs Burney's books would have made a leading 
publisher anxious to look at a work on similar lines, 
but no — Pride and Prejudice was destined not to be 
published until 181 3, sixteen years later 1 

As we have said, it is unanimously accorded the 

premier place amongst Jane Austen's novels, partly 

because it is full of that brilliancy and sparkle which are 

its author's greatest characteristics, and partly because 




of the inimitable character of Elizabeth Bennet, whose 
combined archness and intelligence captivate everyone. 
Elizabeth is the embodiment of the heroine so many 
authors have tried to draw. Witty without being pert, 
having a reasonable conceit of herself without vanity, 
and a natural gaiety of heart that makes her altogether 
lovable. Whether she is repelling the patronage of 
Lady Catherine de Bourgh, or chaffing the sombre 
Darcy, she is equally delightful. Her first scene with 
Lady Catherine embodies much character — 

" * Are any of your younger sisters out, Miss Bennet ? ' 

" • Yes, Ma'am, all.' 

"*A11! What, all five out at once? Very odd! 
And you only the second. The younger ones out before 
the elder are married I Your younger sisters must be 
very young?' 

" ' Yes, the youngest is not sixteen. Perhaps she is 
full young to be much in company. But really, Ma'am, 
I think it would be very hard upon younger sisters that 
they should not have their share of society and amuse- 
ment, because the elder may not have the means or 
inclination to marry early. The last bom has as good 
a right to the pleasures of youth as the first. And to 
be kept back on such a motive ! I think it would not 
be very likely to promote sisterly affection or delicacy 
of mind.' 

" * Upon my word,' said her Ladyship, * you give your 
opinion very decidedly for so young a person. Pray 
what is your age ? ' 

With three younger sisters grown up,' replied 
Elizabeth, smiling, 'your Ladyship can hardly expect 
me to own it' " 

And again, when Lady Catherine comes to ask if 
the report of her nephew's engagement to Elizabeth 
is true. 


" * If you believed it impossible to be true/ said 
Elizabeth, colouring with astonishment and disdain, 'I 
wonder you took the trouble of coming so far. What 
could your Ladyship propose by it ? ' 

" ' At once to insist on having such a report univers- 
ally contradicted/ 

"*Your coming to Langboum to see me and my 
family/ said Elizabeth coolly, ' will be rather a confirma- 
tion of it ; if, indeed, such a report is in existence/ 

"*If! Do you then pretend to be ignorant of it? 
Has it not been industriously circulated by yourselves ? 
Do you not know that such a report is spread abroad ? * 

" * I never heard that it was/ 

*^ * And can you likewise declare there is no founda- 
tion for it ? ' 

'* ' I do not pretend to possess equal frankness with 
your Ladyship. You may ask questions which I shall 
not choose to answer/ 

" * This is not to be borne, Miss Bennet, I insist on 
being satisfied. Has he, has my nephew, made you an 
offer of marriage ? ' 

" * Your Ladyship has declared it to be impossible.' " 

Her verbal encounters with Darcy are equally char- 

^* Elizabeth turned away to hide a smile. 

"*Your examination of Mr. Darcy is over, I pre- 
sume ? ' said Miss Bingley, * and pray what is the result ? ' 

" * I am perefctly convinced by it that Mr. Darcy has 
no defect. He owns it himself without disguise/ 

" * No/ said Darcy, * I have made no such pretension. 
I have faults enough, but they are not, I hope, of under- 
standing. My temper I dare not vouch for. It is, I 
believe, too little yielding; certainly too little for the 
convenience of the world. I cannot forget the follies and 
vices of others so soon as I ought, nor their offences 


against myself. My feelings are not puffed about 
with every attempt to move them. My temper would 
perhaps be called resentful. My good opinion once lost 
is lost for ever.' 

" * That is a failing indeed/ cried Elizabeth. * Im- 
placable resentment is a shade in a character. But you 
have chosen your fault well. I really cannot laugh at 
it You are safe from me.' 

" * There is, I believe, in every disposition a tendency 
to some particular evil, a natural defect, which not even 
the best education can overcome.' 

" ' And your defect is a propensity to hate every- 

" ' And yours,' he replied with a smile, ' is wilfully to 
misunderstand them.' " 

Darcy, by the way, is one of the least attractive of 
the principal men characters. It is inconceivable that 
any man with the remotest pretension to gentlemanly 
feeling should say, even to himself, much less aloud in 
a ball-room, on having his attention called to a young 
girl sitting out : " * Which do you mean ? ' and, turning 
round, he looked for a moment at Elizabeth, till, catch- 
ing her eye, he withdrew his own, and coldly said, — 
' She is tolerable ; but not handsome enough to tempt 
me; and I am in no humour at present to give con- 
sequence to young ladies who are slighted by other 

Indeed, Darcy's whole character is so averse from 
anything usually associated with the word gentleman, 
that one wonders where Miss Austen found her prototype. 
Possibly he was one of the few characters for which she 
drew entirely on her imagination. In saying this there 
is no innuendo that in other cases she drew straight from 
the life; it is, I believe, very few novelists who ever 
wish to do such a thing, but it is certainly true, and 


everyone who has attempted fiction knows it, that nearly 
every character in a life-like book has some prototype 
in real life, some man or woman who gave the first 
indication of a certain character ; the personality may be 
altered entirely, it may be only one small quality which 
is derived from the prototype, but it is nevertheless 
that person who brought that particular character into 
existence. So far as we know there was no haughty, 
self-satisfied man of the world in Jane Austen's list of 

It is true that Darcy is represented as behaving 
much better when his pride has been bitterly stung by 
Elizabeth's rejection of him, but it is hard to believe that 
a man, such as he is at first represented, could have had 
sufficient good in him to change his character completely 
as the effect of love. 

To show how entirely opinions differ it is amusing to 
quote some of the remarks of Miss Mitford, who wrote 
in 1 8 14, the year after the publication of Pride and 
Prejudice : " The want of elegance is almost the only 
want in Miss Austen. I have not read her Mansfield 
Park but it is impossible not to feel in every line of 
Pride and Prejudice^ in every word of Elizabeth, the 
entire want of taste which could produce so pert, so 
worldly a heroine as the beloved of such a man as 
Darcy. Wickham is equally bad. Oh, they were just 
fit for each other, and I cannot forgive that delightful 
Darcy for parting them. Darcy should have married 
Jane. He is of all the admirable characters the best 
designed and the best sustained. I quite agree with you 
in preferring Miss Austen to Miss Edgeworth. If the 
former had a little more taste, a little more perception of 
the graceful, as well as of the humorous, I know not 
indeed anyone to whom I should not prefer her. There 
is none of the hardness, the cold selfishness, of Miss 


Edgeworth about her writings ; she is in a much better 
humour with the world ; she preaches no sermons ; she 
wants nothing but the beau ideal of the female character 
to be a perfect novel writer ! " 

Miss Mitford would no doubt have preferred as a 
heroine the elegant languishing female, without any of 
the savour of originality about her, who was the 
stereotyped heroine of most works of fiction at that time. 

Sir Walter Scott in the Quarterly Review of 1815 
makes the base insinuation that Elizabeth having refused 
Darcy 'Moes not perceive that she has done a foolish 
thing, until she accidentally visits a very handsome seat 
and grounds belonging to her admirer." 

We are sure from what we know of Lizzie, that this 
is quite unfounded. Had she been liable to any undue 
influence of that sort, she would have accepted Darcy at 
the first, for she knew very well all about his position 
and estates from the beginning. Tf^t she had \\fi 
coyrage . zsA^ gnnd sense to snub him speaks much 
mpre ^'^TJHy frir ^"^"^ ^h^rartf^ than a like action on the" 
part of any gid, similarly rirrnmsfanred would do noiy^ 
For then a position gained by marriage was the only one 
a woman could hope for, and such chances were few and 
far between when, as we have seen, men were desperately 
prudent in their matrimonial affairs, and looked on 
marriage more as a well considered and suitable monetary 
alliance than as a love match, though perhaps the actual 
person of the woman was not always such a matter of 
perfect indifference to them as it seems to have been to 
the writer of the following contemporary letter : — 

" I thank you with ye utmost Gratitude for ye good 
offices you was to have done me ; and though I cannot 
now for Reasons above specifyd accept of them, yet I 
hope they will still continue in Reversion: not that I 
have any schemes for ever resuming my Designs upon 


Miss A.: (on ye contrary I should be very loth she 
should wait so long) but because whenever my Time is 
come You are ye first person I should apply to, as 
having a good Number of Friends and Correspondents ; 
and none who are priviledged with ye Intimacy of Mrs. 
Jennings can fail of Accomplishments to render them 
highly agreable to your most obedient servant." {A 
Kentish Country Hause^ 

The character of the solemn, pompous, thick-skinned 
Mr. Collins is the best of the kind Jane ever drew ; he 
is a creation whose name might signify a quality of 
*' collinesqueness." 

Perhaps within the limits possible for quotation there 
is nothing which in so short a space sums up so well his 
inimitable character as the letter of condolence he sends 
to Mr. Bennet on the occasion of Lydia's having eloped 
with the weak and untrustworthy Wickham. 

'' I feel myself called upon by our relationship and 
my situation in life, to condole with you on the grievous 
affliction you are now suffering under, of which we were 
yesterday informed by a letter from Hertfordshire. Be 
assured, my dear sir, that Mrs. Collins and myself 
sincerely sympathise with you, and all your respectable 
family, in your present distress, which must be of the 
bitterest kind, because proceeding from a cause which no 
time can remove. No arguments shall be wanting on 
my part, that can alleviate so severe a misfortune; or 
that can comfort you under a circumstance that must be 
of all others, most afflicting to a parent's mind. The ^ 
j|eath of your daughter woul d have bee n a blessing i n . 
rnn^p^rtgnff Qf-rtiig Anrl fTrs the more to be lamented, 
because there is reason to suppose, as my dear Charlotte 
informs me, that this licentiousness of behaviour in your 
daughter has proceeded from a faulty degree of indulg- 
ence ; though, at the same time, for the consolation of 


yourself and Mrs. Bennet, I am inclined to think that 
her own disposition must be naturally bad, or she could 
not be guilty of such an enormity, at so early an age. 
This false step in one daughter will be injurious to the 
fortunes of all the others ; for who, as Lady Catherine 
herself condescendingly says, will connect themselves 
with such a family? And this consideration leads me 
to reflect, with augmented satisfaction on a certain event 
of last November, for had it been otherwise I must have 
been involved in all your sorrow and disgrace. Let me 
advise you then, my dear sir, to console yourself as much 
as possible, to throw off your unworthy child from your 
affection for ever, and leave her to reap the fruits of her 
own heinous offence." 

Jane's own impressions of Pride and Prejudice are 
given in a letter to her sister, written many years later, 
on the publication of the book — 

" Miss B. dined with us on the very day of the book's 
coming, and in the evening we fairly set at it and read 
half the first vol. to her. . . . She was amused, poor 
soul ! That she could not help you know, with two such 
people to lead the way, but she really does seem to 
admire Elizabeth. I must confess that I think her as 
delightful a creature as ever appeared in print, and how 
I shall be able to tolerate those who do not like her at 
least, I do not know. There are a few typical errors ; 
and a ' said he ' or a ' said she ' would sometimes make 
the dialogue more immediately clear ; but * I do not write 
for such dull elves ' as have not a great deal of ingenuity 
themselves. . . . Our second evening's reading to Miss 
B. had not pleased me so well, but I believe something 
must be attributed to my mother's too rapid way of 
getting on: though she perfectly understands the 
characters herself, she cannot speak as they ought. 
Upon the whole, however, I am quite vain enough and 


well satisfied enough. The work is rather too light and 
bright and sparkling; it wants shade, it wants to be 
stretched out here and there with a long chapter of sense 
if it could be had ; if not, of solemn specious nonsense, 
about something unconnected with the story; an essay 
on writing, a critique on Walter Scott or the history of 
Buonaparte or something that would form a contrast, 
and bring the reader with increased delight to the play- 
fulness and epigrammatism of the general style." And 
later, in reference to the same subject, she writes — 

" I am exceedingly pleased that you can say what 
you do, after having gone through the whole work, 
and Fanny's praise is very gratifying. My hopes were 
tolerably strong of her^ but nothing like a certainty. Her 
liking Darcy and Elizabeth is enough. She might hate 
all the others if she would." (Mr. Austen-Leigh's 

The fact that Jane felt the extreme brilliancy and 
lightness of her own work shows that the critical faculty 
was active in her, but as for wishing to do away with it 
in order to bring the book more into conformity with the 
heavily padded novels of the time, that of course is pure 

After only the lapse of a month or two from the 
completion of First Impressions^ Jane began on Sense 
and Sensibility^ which she at first called Elinor and 
Marianne^ and which, in the form of letters, had been 
written long before ; probably, if the truth were known, 
this might be called her first long story, and it was in 
any case the first published. The story in letters has 
been wittily described as the " most natural but the most 
improbable" form; and certainly, though this style of 
novel had a brief renewal of popularity a year or two 
ago, it is one that is aggravating to most readers, and 
requires many clumsy expedients to fill in gaps in order 


to make the story hang together connectedly. Miss 
Burney had employed it with good effect in Evelina^ but 
even here the story would have run much better told 
straightforwardly. In any case Jane was well advised 
to abandon this form. The novel was finished in 1798 
but not published until 1 8 1 1 . 

Sense and Sensibility, though it has never been placed 
first in position among Jane Austen's novels, has been 
accounted second by many people. The two sisters, 
Elinor and Marianne, who represent Sense and excessive 
Sensibility, are finely sketched. In this book the fact 
that Jane Austen's leading menSffo not ^qual to her 
leading women is clearly exemplified. Mr. Austin 
Dobson speaks of the " colourless Edward Ferrars and 
stiff-jointed Colonel Brandon/' and the epithets are well 
deserved. We might add the selfish and unchivalrous 
Willoughby, for here may be noted a defect not un- 
common in women-writers, an inability to grasp the code 
belonging to gentlemanly conduct. This is noticeable in 
the behaviour ascribed to Darcy in Pride and Prejudice 
already mentioned, but it is worse in the case of 
Willoughby, who is supposed to be brilliant, charming, 
and a gentleman, even though he acts badly by Marianne. 
His long explanation with Elinor, when Marianne lies on 
a sick-bed, and he himself is married, is supposed to 
atone for his bad behaviour ; at all events it is made to 
exonerate him in Elinor's eyes, whereas, far from exoner- 
ating him in the eyes of any ordinary person, it shows 
him in a worse light than anything that has preceded. 

It is only a scoundrel or cad of the weakest sort who 
speaks slightingly of his wife, though unfortunately the 
code for women is different, and many a woman *' gives 
away " her husband on small enough grounds. Yet in 
spite of one of the most stringent and least frequently 
infringed rules of manly conduct, we find Willoughby 


saying, apparently without any debasement in his 
creator's eyes — 

" * With my hand and heart full of your sister, I was 
forced to play the happy lover to another woman, . . . 
Marianne, beautiful as an angel, on one side . . . and 
Sophia, jealous as the devil, on the other hand.' " He 
then goes on to say that the letter sent in his name, 
which had cut poor Marianne to the heart, was dictated 
by his wife. " * What do you think of my wife's style of 
letter writing ? — delicate — tender — truly feminine — was 
it not ? ' " and in excuse for his marriage, " * In honest 
words her money was necessary to me.' " 

After this even Elinor feels bound to rebuke him, 
saying : " * You have made your own choice. It was not 
forced on you. Your wife has a claim to your politeness, 
to your respect, at least.' 

" ' Do not talk to me of my wife,' " he replies. " ' She 
does not deserve your compassion. She knew I had no 
regard for her when we married.' " 

In this book also there is a serious blot of another 
sort, a violation of probabilities, which suffices to score a 
heavy mark against it. In Pride and Prejudice there is 
certainly improbability in the fact that two portionless 
girls like Jane and Elizabeth Bennet should find such 
husbands as Bingley and Darcy, but the improbability 
is lessened by the fact that ^he pair of men were friends, 
and so one match contributes to the other ; but in Sense 
and Sensibility the 'weak subterfuge for getting rid of 
Lucy Price, to whom Edward holds himself in honour 
bound, is hardly credible. There is no rational explana- 
tion of the obliging conduct of Robert Ferrars, Edward's 
brother ; to make a man so vain and selfish marry a 
woman who could bring him nothing, and whose charms 
were not great, is a poor means of escaping from an 
undesirable deadlock. 


There remain a few other points for comment We 
have in Mrs. Dashwood one of the silly though fond 
mothers that Jane Austen delights to describe. In Mrs. 
Jennings we have the comic relief, not so clever as that 
supplied by Mr. Collins in Pride and Prejudice or by 
Miss Bates in Emma, A little too coarse for many 
people, but still true enough to the times, when the fact 
of a man's paying any attention to a girl at all was 
sufficient to make the gossips discuss their marriage and 
settlement in life with all openness. 

The second chapter, often quoted, is one of the finest 
scenes in the whole book ; here John Dashwood, mind- 
ful of his promise to his dying father, suggests giving 
each of his sisters a portion of one thousand pounds out of 
the magnificent estate which has come to him under the 
entail, but by the insidious arguments of his wife he at 
last settles it with his conscience to afford them such 
assistance '* as looking out for a comfortable small house 
for them, helping them to move their things, and sending 
them presents of fish and game and so forth, whenever 
they are in season." 

The cottage in which the Dashwoods were installed 
at Barton seems greatly to have resembled the cottage 
at Chawton. "As a house. Barton Cottage, though 
small, was comfortable and compact ; but as a cottage 
it was defective, for the building was regular, the roof 
was tiled, the window-shutters were not painted green, 
nor were the walls covered with honeysuckles. A 
narrow passage led directly through the house into the 
garden behind. On each side of the entrance was a 
sitting-room about sixteen feet square and beyond them 
were the offices and the stairs. Four bedrooms and two 
garrets formed the rest of the house. It had not been 
built many years and was in good repair." But as 
Sense and Sensibility was written long before Jane went 


to live at Chawton, it is possible this account of the 
cottage was interpolated later, perhaps when she revised 
the book for publication in 181 1. 

On the whole, though interesting enough, Sense and 
Sensibility does not take very high rank among the 
novels. Northanger Abbey was begun in 1798, soon 
after the completion of Sense and Sensibility, and, unlike 
its predecessors, it does not seem to have been based 
on existing MSS., but to have been written as we now 
have it, though the writing was spread over a long 
period. It is the one of all Miss Austen's novels about 
which opinions differ most It was written avowedly as 
a skit on the romantic school, whose high priestess was 
Mrs. Radcliffe; but, as Mr. Austin Dobson says: "The 
ironical treatment is not always apparent, and there 
are indications that, as often happens, the author's 
growing interest in the characters diverts her from her 
purpose." This is true enough, and the book certainly 
improves in consequence as it goes on, for at first it is 
sententious, and the author talks aside to her readers 
and explains her characters in a way that she does 
nowhere else. Archbishop Whateley remarks that it is 
"decidedly inferior to her other works — yet the same 
kind of excellences that characterise the other novels 
may be perceived in this to a degree which would have 
been highly creditable to most other writers of the same 
school, and which would have entitled the author to 
considerable praise had she written nothing better." 

The scene of Northanger Abbey is laid in Bath, and 
it is easy to see how very well acquainted not only with 
the topography, but with the manners of Bath, Jane was. 
The chattering and running to and fro from Pump 
rooms to Upper or Lower Assembly rooms, the con- 
tinual meetings, and the saunterings in the streets, with 
all the affected or real gaiety, and the magnifying of 


trifles, are cleverly sketched in the earlier part of the 
book. The sincere but foolish little heroine, with her 
contrast to and intense admiration for her silly and 
selfish friend, Isabella Thorpe, is a life-like figure. Her 
mother is one of the very few elderly ladies who are 
allowed to be sensible in Jane's books, and she comes 
in so little as to be a very minor figure. 

The account of Bath society is one of the principal 
features of the book, another is that it abounds, perhaps 
more than any of the rest, in those three or four line 
summaries which express so admirably reflections, situa- 
tions, and characters. Mrs. Thorpe's ''eldest daughter 
has great personal beauty; and the younger ones by 
pretending to be as handsome as their sister, imitating 
her air, and dressing in the same style, did very well." 
" Mrs. Allen was now quite happy, quite satisfied with 
Bath. She had found some acquaintance — and as the 
completion of good fortune, had found these friends by 
no means so expensively dressed as herself." " Her 
[Catherine's] whole family were plain matter of fact 
people, who seldom aimed at wit of any kind ; her father 
at the utmost being contented with a pun, and her 
mother with a proverb." 

" The advantages of natural folly in a beautiful girl 
have been already set forth by the capital pen of a 
sister author, and to her treatment of the subject I will 
only add, in justice to men, that though, to the larger 
and more trifling part of the sex, imbecility in females 
is a great enhancement of their personal charms, there 
is a portion of them too reasonable, and too well in- 
formed themselves to desire anything more in woman 
than ignorance." 

The rattle-pate Miss Thorpe is sketched with 
particular care, and if we may judge from other con- 
temporary novels, including Cecilia^ this was by no means 


an uncommon type at that day. Her conversation with 
Catherine on the novels she had read is worth giving 
at length. She asks : " * Have you gone on with 

" * Yes, I have been reading it ever since I woke ; 
and I am got to the black veil.' 

" * Are you indeed ? How delightful ! Oh, I would 
not tell you what is behind the black veil for the world ! 
Are not you wild to know ? ' 

"*Oh yes, quite! what can it be? But do not 
tell me, I would not be told on any account I know 
it must be a skeleton, I am sure it is Laurentina's 
skeleton! Oh! I am delighted with the book! I 
should like to spend my whole life in reading it, I assure 
you ; if it had not been to meet you I would not have 
come away from it for all the world.' 

" ' Dear creature ! How much I am obliged to you ; 
and when you have finished Udolpho we will read the 
Italian together ; and I have made out a list of ten or 
twelve more of the same kind for you.' 

" * Have you indeed ? How glad I am ! Where are 
they all?' 

" * I will read you their names directly, here they are 
in my pocket-book. CasUe of Wolfenbach^ Clermont^ 
Mysterious Warnings^ Necromancer of the Black Forest^ 
Midnight Bell^ Orphan of the Rhine^ and Horrid 
Mysteries. Those will last us some time.' 

" * Yes, pretty well ; but are they all horrid, are you 
sure they are all horrid ? * 

" * Yes, quite sure ; for a particular friend, of mine — 
a Miss Andrews — a ^weet girl, one of the sweetest 
creatures in the world, has read every one of them. I 
wish you knew Miss Andrews, you would be delighted 
with her. She is netting herself the sweetest cloak you 
can conceive. I think her as beautiful as an angel, and 


I am so vexed with the men for not admiring her ! I 
scold them all amazingly for it' 

" ' Scold them ! Do you scold them for not ad- 
miring her ? ' 

" * Yes, that I do. There is nothing I would not 
do for those who really are my friends. I have no 
notion of loving people by halves, it is not my nature. 
My attachments are always excessively strong. I told 
Captain Hunt at one of our assemblies this winter, that 
if he was to tease me all night, I would not dance with 
him unless he would allow Miss Andrews to be as 
beautiful as an angel. The men think us incapable of 
real friendship you know, and I am determined to show 
them the difference.' " 

And shortly after she exclaims, " * For Heaven's 
sakel let us move away from this end of the room. 
Do you know there are two odious young men 
who have been staring at me this half hour. They 
really put me quite out of countenance I Let us go 
and look at the arrivals, they will hardly follow us 

" In a few moments Catherine with unaffected pleasure 
assured her that she need not be any longer uneasy, as the 
gentlemen had just left the Pump room. 

"'And which way are they gone?' said Isabella, 
turning hastily round. *One was a very good-looking 
young man. 

" • They went towards the churchyard.' 

" * Well, I am amazingly glad I have got rid of them ! 
And now, what say you to going to Edgar's Buildings 
with me and looking at my new hat? You said you 
should like to see it.' 

" Catherine readily agreed. * Only,' she added, 
• perhaps we may overtake the two young men.' 

" * Oh ! never mind that I If we make haste we shall 






pass by them presently, and I am dying to show you 
my hat. 

" ' But if we only wait a few minutes there will be no 
danger of our seeing them at all/ 

*"I shall not pay them any such compliment, I 
assure you. I have no notion of treating men with such 
respect. That is the way to spoil them.' 

"Catherine had nothing to oppose against such 
reasoning, and therefore to show the independence of 
Miss Thorpe and her resolution of humbling the sex, 
they set off immediately as fast as they could walk in 
pursuit of the two young men." 

Perhaps Northanger Abbey may be described as the 
book which real Austenites appreciate most, but which 
the casual reader does not admire. The story is not 
interesting, the simplicity of Catherine rather irritating 
than attractive, and it is the form and the flashes of 
insight in the book that make it so enjoyable. 

The writing, though begun in 1798, spread over a 
long period, for the book was not finished until 1803, by 
which time Jane herself was settled in Bath. It was 
then offered to a Bath bookseller, the equivalent of a 
publisher in our day. He gave ten pounds for it, 
probably because of the local colour, but evidently after 
reading it he found it lacked that melodramatic flavour to 
which he was accustomed ; and it is also highly probable 
that he did not at all comprehend the delightful flavour 
of irony. The book remained with him, luckily in safety, 
until thirteen years had passed, when it was bought 
back by Henry Austen on his sister's account for the 
same sum that had been given for it. When the 
transaction had been completed he told the bookseller 
that it was by the author of Sense and Sensibility^ which 
had attracted much attention, whereat the man must 
have experienced the regret he deserved to feel, as he 



had missed the honour of introducing Jane to the public, 
an honour that would have linked his name with 

The book did not appear until 1 8 1 8, when the author 
was in her grave, and it was the first to bear her name 
on the title-page. It was published in one volume with 
the last of her writings, Persuasion. In a preface written 
before her death, she says of Northanger Abbey — Thirteen 
years have made it "comparatively obsolete, places, 
manners, books, and opinions have undergone consider- 
able changes." It is evident, therefore, she did not 
attempt to bring it up to date. This preface is prefixed 
to the first edition, as is also the biographical Memoir 
by her brother which has already been referred to. 

The few closing years of the eighteenth century, 
the last spent at Steventon, while these three works were 
in hand, must have been bright ones -to Jane ; she had 
found an outlet for all the vivacious humour that was in 
her, and must have lived in the world of fancy with her 
characters, which were all very real to her, quite as 
much as in the material world. 

At this time her eldest brother James was living not 
far off, and on November 8, 1796, his wife had become 
the mother of a boy, named Edward. It was he who 
afterwards took the additional name of Leigh, affixed 
to that of Austen, and who published the Memoir of 
Jane Austen from which we have already drawn so much 
interesting detail. How little could Jane have dreamt 
that night when her brother sent over a note to tell her 
of the child's safe arrival in the world, that more than 
a hundred years later the work of that boy, describing 
her as one of the world's famous authoresses, would be 
read eagerly. It was only the preceding month that 
she had begun to work on the first of her delightful books. 
When she went to see the new baby she was allowed a 


glimpse of him while he was asleep, and was told that 
his eyes were 'Marge, dark, and handsome." What a 
subject for a picture ! She in her girlishness, quaintly 
dressed, bending over the cot of the infant, quite as 
unconscious of all that was to come as even the baby 



THE last few years of the century which passed so 
quietly at Steventon were times of continual 
change and stir in the larger world, a world in which 
both Francis and Charles Austen were taking an active 
part But except for the personal matters that affected 
them, Jane does not refer to these eventa It is true 
that from September 1796 to October 1798 we have no 
letters of hers, which may be due to the fact that she 
and her sister were not much parted then. This is one 
of the disadvantages of a correspondence carried on with 
such a near relation. But subsequently to this break 
the allusions to her brothers' promotions and prospects 
are fairly frequent 

** Admiral Gambier, in reply to my father's application 
writes as follows : — ' As it is usual to keep young officers 
in small vessels, it being most proper on account of 
their inexperience, and it being also a situation where 
they are more in the way of learning their duty, your 
son has been continued in the Scorpion^ but I have 
mentioned to the Board of Admiralty his wish to be in 
a frigate, and when a proper opportunity offers and it is 
judged that he has taken his turn in a small ship, I hope 
he will be removed. With regard to your son, now in 
London, I am glad I can give you the assurance that his 
promotion is likely to take place very soon, as Lord 


Spencer has been so good as to say he would include 
him in an arrangement that he proposes making in a 
short time relative to some promotions in that quarter/ 

** There, I may now finish my letter and go and hang 
myself, for I am sure I can neither write or do anjrthing 
which will not appear insipid to you after this." 

Again, " Frank is made. He was yesterday. raised to 
the rank of Commander, and appointed to the Petterel 
sloop now at Gibraltar. ... As soon as you have cried 
a little for joy you may go on, and learn further that the 
Indian House have taken Captain Austen's petition into 
consideration, and likewise that Lieutenant Charles John 
Austen is removed to the Tamar frigate." 

Nearly a month later — 

"Charles leaves us to-night, the Tamar is in the 
Downs and Mr. Daysh advises him to join her there 
directly, as' there is no chance of her going to the 
westward. Charles does not approve of this at all, and 
will not be much grieved if he should be too late for 
her before she sails, as he may then hope to get into a 
better station.*' 

And two days after, " I have just heard from Charles, 
who is by this time at Deal. He is to be second 
lieutenant, which pleases him very well. He expects to 
be ordered to Sheerness shortly as the Tamar has never 
been refitted." 

. Frank apparently remained on the Petterel until he 
received promotion in the beginning of 1801, for his 
sister writes jestingly: "So Frank's letter has made 
you very happy, but you are afraid he would not have 
patience to stay for the Haarlem^ which you wish him to 
have done as being safer than the merchantman. Poor 
fellow, to wait from the middle of November to the end 
of December, and perhaps even longer, it must be sad 
work ; especially in a place where the ink is so abominably 


pale. What a surprise to him it must have been on 
October 20, to be visited, collared, and thrust out of the 
PetteraU by Captain Inglis. He kindly passes over the 
poignancy of his feelings in quitting his ship, his officers, 
and his men. What a pity it is that he should not be 
in England at (he time of his promotion, because he 
certainly would have had an appointment, so everybody 
says, and therefore it must be right for me to say it too* 
Had he been really here, the certainty of the appointment, 
I dare say, would not have been half so great, but as it 
could not be brought to the proof, his absence will 
always be a lucky source of regret" 

The real name of the ship was evidently the Petrel^ 
but it is very variously spelt by other writers beside Jane, 
for orthography was not considered of great itioment in 
the eighteenth century. 

Captain Francis Austen had done good service on 
board and had well earned his promotion ; in William 
James's Naval History of Great Britain, his name is 
mentioned with praise. On the 20th March, 1800, in 
the evening, while the Mermaid, a twelve-pounder thirty- 
two gun frigate, under Captain R. D. Oliver, and the 
ship sloop Petrel, under Captain Francis William Austen, 
were cruising together in the Bay of Marseilles, the 
Petrel, which was nearer the coast than the Mermaid, 
came into action with three armed vessels ; two escaped 
by running on shore, but the third, the Ligutienne of 
"fourteen long six pounders two thirty-six pounder 
carronades all brass" and with one hundred and four 
men on board to the PetrePs eighty-nine, — for the first 
lieutenant and some of the crew were absent on prizes, — 
began to fight. They kept up a running fight of an 
hour and an half s duration, within two hundred and fifty 
yards, and sometimes half that distance. Then the 
Ligurienne struck her colours, her commander being 


shot. The Petrel was at that time only six miles from 
Marseilles. No one was hurt on the Petrely though four 
of her twelve pounder carronades were upset, and the 
sails riddled with shot holes. The Mermaid apparently 
stood in the offing, giving moral support throughout. 
The Ligurienne was a fine vessel, only about two years 
old, and her capture must have meant good prize-money 
into the pockets of the captain and crew of the Petrel, 
After describing this action, Mr. James continues — 

'* Before quitting Captain Austen we shall relate 
another instance of his good conduct; and in which, 
without coming to actual blows, he performed an 
important and not wholly imperilous service.'' On the 
thirteenth of August, the Petrel being then attached to 
Sir Sydney Smith's squadron on the coast of Egypt, he 
was the means of burning a Turkish ship so as to prevent 
the French from stealing her guns, and for this service 
the Captain Facha presented him with a handsome sabre 
and rich pelisse. Though his service seems to have 
landed the Turkish vessel ^^ out of the frying-pan into the 

Charles Austen had seen^ active service when only a 
lad of fifteen, and both brothers frequently took part in 
the small actions which were continually occurring on 
the seas. 

There was, as we have seen, six years' difference in 
age between them, but they were both at sea during 
some of the most glorious years in the whole annals of 
England, In spite of bad provisions, bad quarters, bad 
discipline, all of which will be again referred to, the 
English seamen at this time showed pluck and energy 
that was limitless. Britain was absolutely supreme on 
the seas. In 1794, Tobago, Martinique, St. Lucia, and 
Guadaloupe were all taken in less than a month. In the 
same year, Lord Howe, encountering twenty-six ships 


which the French by great exertions had sent to sea, 
manoeuvred for three days, but on the " glorious first of 
June" bore down upon them and broke their line, 
captured six, and dispersed the rest, while 8000 men 
were killed or wounded on the French side against 1 158 
of the English. On September 16 of the following 
year, the Cape of Good Hope was taken by the English 
under Sir James Craig. The Dutch made an attempt to 
retake the Cape in 1796, but the whole of the armament 
they sent was captured by Admiral Elphinstone. In 
1797 the Spaniards, who had declared war against Great 
Britain, put 'forth their full naval strength to attempt to 
raise the blockade which bound the ports of France. 
They were met by Sir John Jarvis, who had only fifteen 
ships of the line against their twenty-seven, and half the 
number of frigates. 

By the well-known manoeuvre the Admiral broke the 
Spanish line, cutting off a number of their ships, and 
when three of the largest wore round to rejoin their 
comrades, they were met by Nelson and Collingwood. 
Two of these Spanish ships got entangled with each 
other, and Nelson, driving his own vessel on board of 
one of them, carried both sword in hand, and received 
the sword of the Spanish Rear- Admiral in submission ; 
this was afterwards awarded to him for his own posses- 
sion. The Spaniards were totally routed and com- 
paratively few ships were taken ; the battle, which earned 
its commander the title of Lord St. Vincent, is considered 
one of the most important in the whole history of 

In October of the same year, the battle of Camper- 
down was gained by Admiral Duncan, and these two 
victories together, by making the British complete masters 
of the home seas allayed for a while the terror of a 
French invasion. The mezzotint by James Ward from 


Copley's famous picture, given in illustration, shows the 
variety of costume adopted by the British seamen at that 
time, the style of the officers' dress, . and gives a very 
good idea of the appearance of the picturesque old 
wooden sailing-ships in which such heroic services were 

The most amazing part of this splendid series of 
victories, all of which contained much boarding and hand- 
to-hand fighting, demanding personal pluck and endur- 
ance, is, that the sailors, as a mass, were either unwilling 
men pressed into a service which they disliked, or the 
very off-scourings of the country. On board there was 
bad food, bad water, wretched accommodation, and often 
rank brutality. There was the discipline of terror not of 
respect, and insubordination was only held down by fear. 

The officers fared a little better than the men in 
regard to comfort, but it speaks well for young Charles 
Austen that he followed in his brother's steps when he 
must have known by word of mouth of all the discomforts, 
to speak of nothing worse, which must be his lot on 
board ship. 

For the sons of gentlemen, the first entrance into the 
navy was a most precarious venture, and the system, if 
system it can be called, so haphazard, that one marvels 
men should have been found to let their sons attempt it. 
A boy first obtained interest of some sort from an 
admiral or captain on board a ship, and was taken by 
him in any odd capacity for a voyage. He might go as 
" boy " or even as servant, and though nominally a mid- 
shipman, was in reality without a position or standing 
save what his patron allowed to him. He could not go 
in for an examination until he had served on board for 
six years, then he might do so to qualify for a lieutenancy. 
Once a lieutenant his position was secured, and he had 
authority and consequently a very different life. Captain 



Edward Thompson, writing in the middle of the eighteenth 
century to a young relative who thought of following the 
sea for a trade, says, '* Besides, the disagreeable circum- 
stances and situations attending a subaltern officer in the 
navy, are so many and so hard, that, had not the first men 
in the service passed the dirty road to preferment, to 
encourage the rest, they would renounce it to a man. 
It is a most mistaken notion that a youth will not be a 
good officer unless he stoops to the most menial offices, 
to be bedded worse than hogs, and to eat less delicacies. 
In short, from having experienced such scenes of filth 
and infamy, such fatigues and hardships, that are 
sufficient to disgust the stoutest and bravest, for alas 
there is only a little hope of promotion sprinkled in the 
cup to make a man swdlow more than he digests the 
rest of his life." 

The wonder is that such boys as went to sea picked 
up enough seamanship to pass any but the most practical 
examination. Navigation was in those days even mooe 
difficult than at present, owing to the dependence on 
the wind and the necessity for understanding the exact 
management of sails. There were no engineers who 
could make the vessel go in any direction the captain 
thought best at a moment's notice; and the man on 
the bridge had a heavy responsibility. 

That matters in regard to the service were improving 
is evident, for the same writer quoted above con- 
tinues — 

'* The last war, a chaw of tobacco, a ratan, and a 
rope of oaths were sufficient qualities to constitute a 
lieutenant, but now education and good manners are 
the study of all." 

Yet the surroundings on board ship were enough to 
prevent any but the most earnest and determined youth 
from studying; food and accommodation were alike 


revolting. ''At once you resign a good table for no 
table, and a good bed for your length and breadth. Nay, 
it will be thought an indulgence too to let you sleep 
where day ne'er enters ; and where fresh air only comes 
when forced. You must get up every four hours, and 
they never forget to call you, though you may forget 
to rise. 

''Your light. for day and night is a small candle 
which is often stuck on the side of your platter at meals 
for want of a better convenience. Your victuals are 
salt and often bad ; and if you vary the mode of dressing 
them you must cook yourself ... in a man-of-war you 
have the collected filth of jails ; condemned criminals 
have the alternative of hanging or entering on board. 
There is not a vice committed on shore but is practised 
here, the scenes of horror and infamy on board a man- 
of-war are so many and so great, that I think they must 
rather disgust a good mind than allure it." 

Smollet's pictures of life on board are too well known 
to quote. 

The between decks, where the men slept, had not 
been ventilated at all up to the middle of the eighteenth 
century, when a hand-pump was invented to expel the 
foul air, the fresh air being left to find its own way in. 
The noisome smells, the cramped space, fhe continual 
darkness and disorder, must have bred sickness and 
debility in many, which all the open-air life on deck 
could not counteract. 

As for the food served for the men, it seems to have 
been loathsome. In Tracts relating to tlie Victualling 
of the Navy^ we read of "sour tainted pickled meat. 
If such can be called food — human food — ^when dc^s 
that I have offered it to have flaged their tails, ran 
away, and would not even smell to it;" of "rotten, 
musty, weevily flour," and "as for the butter, cheese, 


oil, raisins, they might have been expended, the cheese 
into ammunition, cast into cannon balls, the raisins as 
wadding, the butter and oil to grease their tackle with, 
for which it may be thought very fit — stinking slush. 
It is no longer a wonder at the pursers being tormented 
with execrations and bitter wrath from remediless, 
Bggricvedf and tortured men on board." 

It is said that any man who had been long a sailor, 
got into the habit of tapping his biscuit on the table to 
knock the weevils out before he ate it, a trick that old 
salts were seen to do at the tables of their friends on 
shore ! 

As for the state of the hospitals in India and else- 
where, the following story tells a tale. "Soon after 
the last action with the French fleet, I observed a 
wounded seaman, who had lost part of his hand by a 
shot, climbing up the side with one hand, and holding 
his bread bag in his teeth. I asked why he had left 
the hospital. He answered they were so much in want 
of provisions that he had come on board to beg some 
biscuit (which was full of maggots) for his messmates. 
At that time I understood Government was charged a 
rupee a day for every man in the hospital (about looo 
or 1500) but I believe seven or eight pence was all it 
cost the contractor for their provisions, and it was 
reported that he was obliged to share the profits with 
the admiral and his secretary, said to amount to about 
£70 a day." 

We have had some revelations of official corruption 
recently, but there is nothing to compare with the openly 
recognised stealing of the eighteenth century, when, so 
late as 1783, a minister could say in earnest to a purser 
who had been a commissary and complained of poverty, 
" You had your hand in the bag, sir, why did you not 
help yourself? " And help themselves everyone appar- 


ently did, from the highest to the lowest. Enquiry first 
began to be made by Lord St. Vincent, who set him- 
self to clean this Augean stable. 

There being a prospect of a vacancy In the office 
of the Admiralty, a satirical correspondent to the 
Morning Chronicle in 1792 forwarded the following list 
of qualities essential for any candidate applying : — 

He should know nothing of a ship. 

He should never have been to sea. 

He should be ignorant of geography. 

He should be ignorant of naval tactics. 

He should never attend office until four in the after- 

He should be unfit for business every day. 

He should be very regular in keeping officers waiting 
for orders. 

He should not know a bumboat from a three decker. 

His hair should always be well dressed, 

And his head should be empty I 

Though matters were bad enough for the officers 
they were fifty times worse for the men, and it is not 
at all singular that men should have been procured 
with difficulty to enter a service where they were liable 
to all sorts of hardships; to great risk of life; where 
they were at the mercy of an irresponsible commander, 
who could order them to be {strung up on the slightest 
provocation, and given any number of lashes he thought 
fit; where they could be hanged for disobeying or 
manifesting the smallest revolt to this tyrant; where 
prize-money, which was freely distributed to officers, 
sometimes never reached the men. There were instances 
of prize-money fairly due to the men being held over for 
a year or more as " not worth distributing." 

The deficiency of men was, as we have seen, supplied 
by using the criminals of the gaols. Bounty money 


was also liberally offered, the authorities realising that 
a few pounds ready money were likely to be a valuable 
bribe to a man out of luck. The St. James's Chronicle 
remarks at the beginning of the war, ''Five pounds 
bounty, and two pounds extra from the Corporation of 
London ; surely no tars can be found backward." 

In 1770 the Government had offered thirty shillings 
a head, which was augmented by various towns ; London 
offering forty shillings additional, and Edinburgh forty- 
two shillings. In 1788 a prohibition forbidding seamen 
to serve in foreign navies was issued, and in 1791 the 
bounty money of London rose to two pounds for 
an ordinary seaman, and sixty shillings for an able 
seaman. The city added twenty shillings to the one, 
and forty shillings to the other at the beginning of the 
war in 1793. And in 1795 the total bounties in some 
places even amounted to thirty pounds a head ! 

In 1795 an Act was passed demanding levies of 
men from the whole country, the proportions varying 
according to the size of the county or port; from 
Yorkshire more than a thousand were demanded. In 
addition to this the pressgang was hard at work, and 
the monstrous injustice perpetrated by it makes one 
wonder how, even in times of greatest stress, it could 
have been allowed. 

The difference between an ordinary press and a 
'' hot press " was that in the latter all protection was 
disregarded, and men of every sort, even apprentices 
usually protected by law, were seized and carried off to 
serve, utterly regardless of mercy. The odd part of it 
is that, when it was found to be inevitable, the men who 
had been taken against their will plucked up spirit and 
performed their duties well. 

John Ashton in Old Times quotes a number of 
cuttings from The Times of 1793 and 1794 giving 


details of these presses. " The press in the river Thames 
for the three last days has been very severe. Five or 
six hundred seamen have been laid hold of." (February 

18, 1 793-) 

"A hot press has, for the last two nights, been 
carried on from London Bridge to the Nore ; protec- 
tions are disregarded, and almost all the vessels in the 
river have been stripped of their hands." (April 26, 


'' Sailors are so scarce that upwards of sixty sail of 

merchant's ships bound to the West Indies, and other 

places, are detained in the river, with their ladings on 

board ; seven outward bound East Indiamen are likewise 

detained at Gravesend, for want of sailors to man them." 

(January 7, I794-) 

" That part of Mr. Pitt's plan for manning the navy, 
which recommends to the magistrates to take cognizance 
of all idle and disorderly people, who have no visible 
means of livelihood, may certainly procure a great 
number of able-bodied men who are lurking about the 
Metropolis." (February 11, 1795.) 

" There was a very hot press on the river on Friday 
night last, when several hundred ableseamen were procured. 
One of the gangs in attempting to board a Liverpool 
trader, were resisted by the crew, when a desperate 
affray took place, in which many of the former were 
thrown overboard, and the lieutenant who boarded them 
killed by a shot from the vessel." (June 9, 1795.) 

In 1798 all protection from the operations of the 
pressgang was suspended, even in the case of the coal 
trade, for one month ! 

To counterbalance all the manifold disadvantages 
of service in the navy, for the officers at least, there were 
some attractions ; that of prize-money was very great, 
for a man might literally make his fortune at sea in a 






few years by lucky captures, and the spirit of gambling 
and adventure to which this gave rise must have had a 
very strong effect in attracting young officers. 

The account of the sums received in prize-money is 
perfectly amazing; the best haul of all was perhaps 
the Hermioney a Spanish ship taken long before the 
Austens' day, in 1762. The treasure was conveyed to 
London in twenty waggons with the British colours 
flying over those of Spain, a sight that would confound 
those of our own time, who seem to think the true way 
to celebrate a victory is to give compensation to those 
who have provoked war, and brought defeat upon 
themselves! The share of one ship alone, the Active^ 
amounted to over ;f 2 5 0,000; and the proportion given 
to the ships of the same squadron not actually present 
amounted to nearly ;f 67,000. The value of the St. Jago^ 
taken in 1793, as adjudged to the captors was jf 93 5,000, 
of which about ;(^ 100,000 went to Admiral Gell. 
{Xhe Times ^ February 4, 1795.) Each captain got 
nearly ;£* 14,000. 

In 1 80 1 , Jane tells us that '^ Charles has received 
£%o for his share of the privateer and expects ten 
pounds more, but of what avail is it to take prizes if he 
lays out the produce in presents to his sisters ? He has 
been buying gold chains and topaz crosses for us. He 
must be well scolded." 

After this it does not seem so strange to read in 
Persuasion that in only seven years Anne's lover, 
Wentworth, *' had distinguished himself, and early gained 
the other step in rank, and must now, by successive 
captures, have made a handsome fortune," which other- 
wise strikes oddly on our ears. 

The abuses in the navy included those of interest, 
which in those days honeycombed every branch of 
professional life. Lord Rodney made his son John a 


' ^ 



1 X^sfe^r^ 

E >«- '^ 

• / 




post captain after he had been a midshipman little over 
a month, and when he was just over fifteen years old. 
But this, at a time when boys of fourteen held com- 
missions in the Guards, must have seemed a trifle. Mrs. 
Lybbe Powys, speaking of her brother-in-law, says — 

"Our young officer is what I fear too generally 
young men in the army are, gay, thoughtless, and very 
handsome; but what boy of fourteen, having a com- 
mission in the Guards, can be otherwise?" 

TAe Times of 1 797 speaks of the " baby officers," 
and says — 

'* Some of the sucking colonels of the Guards have 
expressed their dislike of the short skirts. They say 
they feel as if they were going to be flo^jed." 

A peculiar feature of the end of the eighteenth and 
beginning of nineteenth centuries was the tendency to 
mutiny, induced doubtless by the terrible hardships and 
injustices undergone by the men on board. And the 
wonder is, not that the men did mutiny, but that they 
endured so long and fought so splendidly without 
doing so. 

Some of the mutineers on board the TimSraire^ 
in the beginning of the nineteenth century, are thus 
described by an eye-witness. " They were the noblest 
fellows, with the most undaunted mien, I ever beheld — 
the beau ideal of British sailors ; tall and athletic, well- 
dressed, in blue jackets, red waistcoats, and trousers 
white as driven snow. Their hair like the tail of the 
lion, hung in a queue down their back. At that time 
this last article was considered, as indeed it really 
was, the distinguishing mark of a thoroughbred seaman. 
Unfortunately, these gallant fellows were as ignorant as 
they were impatient, and the custom of the time was 
to hang everyone who should dare to dispute the 
orders of his superior officers." 





Of the mutinies the most serious were those at 
Spithead and the Nore, which followed closely upon one 
another. After the first, concessions in re^^urd to pay 
and various improvements in commissariat were granted ; 
and both mutinies were put down firmly and sharply, 
but they were followed from time to time by lesser 

All these excitements, and the constant changes in 
the pay of officers, must have been watched with interest 
by the Austen family, whom they touched so nearly. 
Jane certainly understood the best type of naval officer, 
and had no little admiration and affection for him. 

The officers in her novels may easily be divided into 
two sorts, they are the officers of the old school, of which 
Admiral Crawford, in Mansfield Park^ to whom his 
nephew and niece were indebted for their bringing up, is 
a prominent example. Here is the aforesaid niece's 
account of the type, when Edmund Bertram asks her 
whether shq has not a large acquaintance in the navy. 
'' *' Among admirals, large enough, but,' with an air of 
grandeur, 'we know very little of the inferior ranks. 
Post captains may be very good sort of men, but they 
do not belong to us. Of various admirals I could tell 
you a great deal; of them and their flags, and the 
gradation of their pay, and their bickerings and jealousies. 
But in general, I can assure you that they are all passed 
over and all very ill-used. Certainly my home at my 
uncle's brought me acquainted with a circle of admirals. 
Of Rears and Vices I saw enough. Now, do not be 
suspecting me of a pun, I entreat.* " 

Mr. Price, Fanny's father, who is in the Marines, with 
his noise, and his oaths, and his coarseness and ill-temper, 
is a terrible revelation to his gentle daughter. 

On the other side of the scale we may set Admiral 
Croft in Persuasion^ a polished and delightful man, " rear- 


admiral of the white. He was in the Trafalgar action, 
and has been in the East Indies since; he has been 
stationed there, I believe, several years." 

The younger generation of sailors is represented 
charmingly in the novels from Fanny's admirable, 
straightforward, single-minded brother William, who, 
when he came to Mansfield Park shortly after getting 
promoted to his lieutenancy, '' would have been delighted 
to show his uniform there too, had not cruel custom pro- 
hibited its appearance except on duty. So the uniform 
remained at Portsmouth, and Edmund conjectured that 
before Fanny had any chance of seeing it, all its own 
freshness, and all the freshness of its wearer's feelings 
must be worn away ; for what can be more unbecoming 
or more worthless than the uniform of a lieutenant who 
has been a lieutenant a year or two, and sees others 
made commanders before him." 

Captain Wentworth, Anne's lover, who had been 
treated so cruelly in deference to the wishes of her 
family, is gallant, handsome, charming, a man of the 
world, without having lost his freshness, and a man who 
has won his way and yet been unspoiled by flattery ; he 
is one of the hest of Jane Austen's heroes. 




/ A ^ ^^ ^"^ ^^ ^ ^^^> ^^* Austen made up his mind 
I jljl to put his son James into the rectory at Steventon 
/ as locum tenens, and himself retire to live at Bath. In 
those days parents were not quite so communicative to 
their children as they are now; many things were 
decided without being discussed in full family conclave, 
as propriety dictates at present, and the change of plan 
does not seem to have been mooted to the girls at all, 
so that, *^ coming in one day from a walk, as they entered 
the room their mother greeted them with the intelligence : 
* Well, girls, it is all settled. We have decided to leave 
Steventon and go to Bath/ To Jane, who had been from 
home, and who had not heard much before about the 
matter, it was such a shock that she fainted away . . . 
she loved the country, and her delight in natural scenery 
was such that she would sometimes say it must form one 
of the delights of heaven." (From Family MSS. quoted 
by Constance Hill, in fane Austen, Her Homes and Her 

The break up of the home of one's childhood is no 
trifling matter, and it often carries with it removal 
from many friends and neighbours whose society has 
become an integral part of life. It is no wonder that the 
blow was severe, yet Jane was of a cheerful disposition, a 
disposition that could make its own happiness anywhere. 


BATH 213 

and it was not long before she entered with alacrity into 
all the needful preparations. 

She wrote not long after, " I get more and more 
reconciled to the idea of our removal. We have lived 
long enough in this neighbourhood ; the Basingstoke 
balls are certainly on the decline; there is something 
interesting in the bustle of going away, and the prospect 
of spending future summers by the sea or in Wales is 
very delightful. For a time we shall now possess many 
of the advantages which I have often thought of with 
envy in the wives of sailors or soldiers. It must not be 
generally known, however, that I am not sacrificing a 
g^eat deal in quitting the country, or I can expect to 
inspire no tender interest in those we leave behind." 

Mr. Austen was perfectly justified in his decision to 
stop work ; he was tlien seventy, and had held the two 
livings for thirty-six years, his son James was ready to 
take them up, h^ was living in the neighbourhood, and 
had been of assistance to his father for some time past. 
We learn this from many casual sentences in the letters, 
such as the following: ''James called by my father's 
desire on Mr. Bayle to enquire into the cause of his being 
so horrid. Mr. Bayle did not attempt to deny his being 
horrid, and made many apologies for it ; he did not plead 
his having a drunken self, he talked only of a drunken 
foreman, etc., and gave hopes of the tables being at 
Steventon on Monday se'nnight next." 

Mr. Austen died in 1805, only four years after the 
removal, which shows that he had not withdrawn from 
active life at all too soon. In giving up country life he 
had to give up also many of the hobbies in which he 
had taken delight; his pigs and his sheep could not 
accompany him to Bath. References to these animals 
often occur in his daughter's lively letters. " My father j 
furnishes him [Edward] with a pig from Cheesedown ; it i^ / 





already killed and cut up, but it is not to weigh more 
than nine stone ; the season is too far advanced to get 
him a larger one. My mother means to pay herself for 
the salt and the trouble of ordering it to be cured, by the 
spareribs, the souse, and the lard." 

** Mr. Lyford gratified us very much yesterday by his 
praises of my father's mutton, which they all think was 
the finest that was ever ate." 

** You must tell Edward that my father gave twenty- 
five shillings apiece to Seward for his last lot of sheep." 

In Bath, pigs, poultry, and a garden would be im- 
possible, but there would be compensating advantages. 
The country life had but narrow interests, and trifles had 
to be made the most of. 

Jane's letters for the last few years before leaving 
Steventon show some of the decadence due to trivial 
surroundings, and her remarks are apt to be spiced with 
unkindness. Evidently her sister-in-law, James's wife, was 
not a favourite ; she objected to her husband's being so 
much at Steventon, though Jane notes that he persevered 
in coming " in spite of Mary's reproaches." But Jane's 
sharpness is also extended to her remarks on her 
acquaintances. '* The Debaries persist in being afflicted 
at the death of their uncle, of whom they now say they 
saw a great deal in London." 

Poor Debaries, it is quite possible that his death had 
showed them how much they had cared for him, at all 
events, after his death they could have had nothing to 
gain by any display of aflection ! 

After a small ball Jane writes: "There were very 
few beauties, and such as there were were not very hand- 
some. Miss Iremonger did not look well, and Mrs. 
Blount was the only one much admired. She appeared 
exactly as she did in September, with the same broad 
fi^ce, diamond bande^^u, vfhiX^ s)ioes, pink husband, and| 



fat neck. The two Miss Coxes were there; I traced in 
one the remains of the vulgar, broad-featured girl who 
danced at Enham eight years ago ; the other is refined 
into a nice composed-looking girl like Catherine Bigg, 
I looked at Sir Thomas Champneys and thought of poor 
Rosalie; I looked at his daughter, and thought her a 
queer animal with a white neck." And later she adds : 
" I had the comfort of finding out the other evening who 
all the fat girls with long noses were that disturbed me 
at the 1st H. ball." It is obvious that a wider horizon 
would do the writer of these remarks no harm. 

The income which the family would have is indicated 
in the following remark of Jane's made about this time : 
" My father is doing all in his power to increase his in- 
come, by raising his tithes, etc., and I do not despair of 
getting very nearly six hundred a year." 

Once the great fact of the removal was settled, there 
remained the minor difficulty as to which part of Bath 
would be the best to live in; of this Jane writes: 
" There are three parts of Bath which we have thought 
of as likely to have houses in them — Westgate Buildings, 
Charles Street, and some of the short streets leading 
from Laura Place or Pulteney Street. Westgate 
Buildings, though quite in the lower part of the town, 
are not badly situated themselves. The street is broad 
and has rather a good appearance. Charles Street, 
however, I think is preferable. The buildings are new, 
and its nearness to Kingsmead Fields would be a 
pleasant circumstance. Perhaps you may remember, 
or perhaps you may forget, that Charles Street leads 
from the Queen's Square Chapel to the two Green 
Park Streets. The houses in the streets near Laura 
Place I should expect to be above our price. Gay 
Street would be too high, except only the lower house 
pn the )fft band side as ^ou ^^sgend. Towards that 


my mother has no disinclination; it used to be lower 
rented than any other house in the row, from some 
inferiority in the apartments. But above all others her 
wishes are at present fixed on the corner house in 
Chapel Row which opens into Prince Street Her 
knowledge of it, however, is confined only to the out- 
side, and therefore she is equally uncertain of its being 
really desirable as of its being to be had. In the 
meantime she assures you that she will do everythmg 
in her power to avoid Trim Street, although you have 
not expressed the fearful presentiment of it, which was 
rather expected. We know that Mrs, Perrot will want 
to get us into Oxford Buildings, but we all unite in 
particular dislike of that part of the town, and there- 
fore hope to escape." This was from Steventon in 
January 1801. 

The Mrs. Perrot is the aunt, Mrs. Leigh-Perrot, 
before mentioned, she was sister-in-law to Mrs. Austen, 
and her husband had taken the additional name of 
Perrot It was from him that Mr. Austen-Leigh in- 
herited the additional name of Leigh when he came 
into the estate. The Austen family seem to have been 
almost as much in the habit of changing their names as 
of marrying twice. 

The topography of the letter can only be appreciated 
by those who know Bath, and requires little comment 
The various streets mentioned are still existing, and we 
can pass through the despised Trim Street, survey the 
house in Gay Street lower rented than the others, 
or cross over the river to Laura Place to see the 
neighbourhood Jane feared would be too expensive, 
just as well now, as she could then. 

In May of 1801, Jane, with her father and mother, 
went to Bath and stayed with Mr. and Mrs. Leigh- 
Parrot at Paragon, ig order to hunt for a house. 

BATH 217 

Paragon remains unchanged, the doorways enclosed by 
pent-house and pilasters remain the very type of late 
eighteenth-century architecture. 

It is easy to imagine the difficulties that had to be 
encountered by the Austens in their quest 

** In our morning's circuit we looked at two houses in 
Green Park Buildings, one of which pleased me very 
well. We walked all over it except into the garret; 
the dining-room is of a comfortable size, just as large 
as you like to fancy it; the second room about four- 
teen feet square. The apartment over the drawing-room 
pleased me particularly, because it is divided into two, 
the smaller one, a very nice sized dressing-room which 
upon occasion might admit a bed. The aspect is 
south-east The only doubt is about the dampness of 
the offices, of which there were symptoms." 

''Yesterday morning we looked into a house in 
Seymour Street which there is reason to suppose will 
soon be empty ; as we are assured from many quarters 
that no inconvenience from the river is felt in those 
buildings, we are at liberty to fix on them if we can. 
But this house was not inviting; the largest room 
downstairs was not much more than fourteen feet 
square, with a western aspect" 

'' I went with my mother to look at some houses in 
New King Street, towards which she felt some kind of 
inclination, but their size has now satisfied her. They 
were smaller than I expected to find them; one in 
particular out of the two was quite monstrously little; 
the best of the sitting-rooms not as large as the little 
parlour at Steventon, and the second room in every 
floor about capacious enough to admit a very small 
single bed." 

" Our views on G.P. Buildings seem all at an end ; 
the observation of the damn still remaining in the o()iccfi 



of a house which has only been vacated a week, with 
reports of discontented families and putrid fevers, has 
given the coup-de-grace. We have now nothing in view." 

Anyone who has ever been house-hunting will 
sympathise with the difficulties sketched in these 
remarks. It was finally decided that the family should 
go to 4 Sydney Place, and later they removed to the 
despised Green Park Buildings after all. 

The sale of the effects at Steventon had begun 
before the family left, and continued after. 

'' My father and mother, wisely aware of the difficulty 
of finding in all Bath such a bed as their own, have 
resolved on taking it with them; all the beds, indeed, 
that we shall want are to be removed. ... I do not think 
it will be worth while to remove any of our chests of 
drawers, we shall be able to get some of a much more 
commodious sort, made of deal, and painted to look 
very neat ... we have thought at times of removing 
the sideboard, or a Pembroke table, or some other piece 
of furniture, but on the whole it has ended in thinking 
that the trouble and risk of the removal would be more 
than the advantage of having them at a place where 
everything may be purchased." 

In another letter she imagines that the appraisement 
of the furniture for sale will amount to about two 
hundred pounds, and when actually at Bath she sends 
the following details : — 

"Sixty-one guineas and a half for the three cows 
gives one some support under the blow of only eleven 
guineas for the tables. Eight for my pianoforte is 
about what I really expected to get." "Mr. Bent 
seems bent upon being very detestable, for he values the 
books at only seventy pounds. Ten shillings for 
Dodsley's Poems, however, please me to the quick, and 
I <lo not c^re ^ow oft^n I sell them again for as fnuqh/' 

BATH 219 

Sydney Place is on the east side of the River over* 
looking Sydney Gardens, which had been opened for 
public entertainment in 1795; the following description 
of the Gardens is given in a guide contemporary with 
Jane's residence in Bath. "The Kennet and Avon 
Canal runs through the garden, with two elegant cast- 
iron bridges thrown over it, after the manner of the 
Chinese. There are swings, bowling greens, and a 
Merlin's swing in the labyrinth. During the summer 
are public nights, with music, fireworks, and superb 
illuminations." Before Jane herself lived here, while 
she was stajdng in Queen Square with her brother and 
his family, she had been to a grand gala in Sydney 
Gardens, with illuminations, and fireworks which "sur- 
passed" her expectations. It was a pleasant part of 
Bath, and probably the Austens were comfortable 
enough here. The house is still standing ; it is one of 
a solid uniform row facing nearly due east, and bears a 
plate stating "Here lived Jane Austen from 1801- 
1805," an inscription not quite accurate as the Austens 
left in 1804. It is one great charm of Bath that, 
electric trams and modern buildings notwithstanding, 
the place is so very much the same as it was when 
Jane knew it. The narrow intricate streets, the little 
courts and passages, and jutting houses are everywhere 
to be seen. The town is essentially late eighteenth 
century, and the modern buildings are mere addition! 
that do not in any way interfere with its character. 

The beautiful abbey had in her time been more 
or less repaired, and the choir was used as a pariah 
church. But the pinnacles were added to the spire 
only in 1834, and the complete restoration took place 
in 1 874. ' The Pump Room, near at hand, was built 
in 1796, replacing one which had existed for forty- 
f|ye y^ars. If w^ except a fev^ trifles, such as electric 


pendants to the great central chandelier, we see it as it 
was in Jane's day. The fluted pilasters running up to 
the ceiling are very characteristic of the florid Georgian 
taste. In a print of the interior of the Pump Room, 
dated 1 804, we see all the women, even the attendants, 
with bare arms and necks, quite uncovered, — a fashion 
revived in 1905, — and some of the women wear a 
kind of modified poke-bonnet with ^' coquelicot " plumes. 
In the alcove at the end is a statue of fat little Beau 
Nash, who was the regenerator and in some sense the 
maker of Bath. 

But Nash's name is associated even more with the 
Assembly Rooms than the Pump Room. The Assembly 
Rooms are some distance from the Pump Rooms and 
the Baths, being situated not far from the £unous 
crescent In Jane's time there were two sets of 
Assembly Rooms, upper and lower, governed by two 
difierent masters of the ceremonies, positions which 
were much coveted. In 1820 the Lower Rooms were 
burnt down and not rebuilt, but the Upper are still 
used, and the names over the doors of the rooms. 
Card-room, Tea-room, etc., recall many a scene in Jane 
Austen's novels. 

Bath really b^an to be fashionable in the early 
part of Queen Anne's reign, but it was Nash who 
consolidated its attractions, and brought it up to its 
highest pitch of popularity. 

When he went there "the amusements of the 
place were neither elegant nor conducted with delicacy. 
General society among people of rank or fortune was 
by no means established. The nobility still preserved 
a tincture of Gothic haughtiness, and refused to keep 
company with the gentry at any of the public entertain- 
ments of the place. Smoking in the rooms was 
permitted; gentlemen and ladies appeared in ^ djs- 



BATH 321 

respectful manner at public entertainments in aprons 
and boots. With an eagerness common to those whose 
pleasures come but seldom, they generally continued 
them too long, and thus they were rendered disgusting 
by too free an enjoyment. If the company liked each 
other they danced till morning. If any person lost 
at cards he insisted on continuing the game till luck 
should turn. The lodgings for visitants were paltry, 
though expensive, the dining-rooms and other chambers 
were floored with boards coloured brown with soot 
and small beer to hide the dirt ; the walls were covered 
with unpainted wainscot, the furniture corresponded 
with the meanness of the architecture; a few oak 
chairs, a small looking-glass, with a fender and tongs, 
composed the magnificence of these temporary habita- 
tions. The city was in itself mean and contemptible, no 
elegant buildings, no open streets, no uniform squares.'' 

Thither Nash came in 1705. He was the man 
of all others to organise fashionable entertainments. 
Under his severe, yet fatherly rule, the place sprang 
quickly into popularity. Houses were built, streets 
repaved, balls and entertainments followed each other 
in quick succession. An Assembly Room was built, 
and good music engaged; but it was not until 1769^ 
eight years after Nash's death, that the present building 
was erected. Nash's code of rules continued in force 
for long after his death, before which he had sunk 
from the position of esteem which he had once enjoyed. 
His rules throw some light on the conduct of these 
delightful assemblies, and are worth quoting — 

I. That a visit of ceremony at first coniing, and 
another at going away, are all that are expected or 
desired by ladies of quality and fashion-— except im* 



2. That ladies coming to the ball appoint a time for 
their footmen coming to wait on them home, to prevent 
disturbance and inconvenience to themselves and others. 

3. That gentlemen of fashion never appearing in a 
morning before the ladies in gowns and caps show 
breeding and respect 

4. That no person take it ill that anyone goes to 
another's play or breakfast and not theirs; except 
captious by nature. 

5. That no gentleman give his ticket for the balls 
to any but gentlewomen. N.B. — Unless he has none 
of his acquaintance. 

6. That gentlemen crowding before the ladies at the 
ball show ill manners ; and that none do so for the future 
except such as respect nobody but themselves. 

7. That no gentleman or lady takes it ill that 
another dances before them; except such as have no 
pretence to dance at all. 

8. That the elder ladies and children be content with 
a second bench at a ball, as being past or not come to 

9. That the younger ladies take notice how many 
eyes observe them. 

10. That all whisperers of lies or scandal be taken 
for their authors. 

11. That all repeaters of such lies and scandal be 
shunned by the company ; except such as have been 
guilty of the same crime. 

Nash's rigour in regard to appearances in the case 
^ of top-boots is elsewhere mentioned, he disliked quite 

as much the aprons which smart ladies then wore on 
I many occasions, and when the Duchess of Queensberry 

entered one evening in one of these, he snatched it 
off and flung it over the back benches among the 
ladies' maids. 

The rules for balls were probably very much the 
same when Jane Austen attended them as when Nash 
was living. Everything was to be performed in proper 


BATH 223 

order. Each ball was to open with a minuet danced 
by two persons of the highest distinction present. 
When the minuet concluded the lady was to return 
to her seat, and Mr. Nash was to bring the gentleman 
a new partner. The minuets generally continued two 
hours. At eight the country dances began, ladies of 
quality according to their rank standing up first. 
About nine o'clock a short interval was allowed for 
rest, and for the gentlemen to help their partners to 
tea, the ball having begun, it must be remembered, 
about six. The company pursued their amusements 
until the clock struck eleven, when the music ceased 
instantly ; and Nash never allowed this rule to be broken, 
even when the Princess Amelia herself pleaded for 
one dance more. 

Among other rules was one mentioned by Mr. 
Austen-Leigh, that ladies who intended to dance minuets 
were requested to wear lappets to distinguish them. 
Also, in order that every lady may have an opportunity 
of dancing, gentlemen should change their partners every 
two dances. We see in this last rule how the transi- 
tion from one partner for the whole evening to the 
continual change of partners came to pass. 

After returning from Lyme Regis in the autumn 
of 1804, the Austens left Sydney Place, and went to 
Green Park Buildings, which had been among the 
houses first considered. They were here when Mr. 
Austen's death occurred in January 1805; and then 
Mrs. Austen and her daughters moved into lodgings 
in Gay Street. 

Mrs. Lybbe Powys gives us a lively word-picture of 
Bath in 1805 — 

" The Dress Ball, Upper Rooms immensely crowded 
at ten; but the number of card parties quite spoilt 
the balls, as 'tis fashionable to attend five or six before 



you go to the room. It was endeavoured to alter 
these hours, but fortunately for the old people, and 
those who drink the waters, it was not permitted, and 
at eleven, if in the middle of a dance, the music stops. 
But I suppose 'tis reckoned vulgar to come early, one 
sees nothing of the dancing or company for the crowds. 
The rooms are not half so agreeable as they were 
some years ago, when the late London hours were 
not thought of; and how prejudicial must they be to 
the health of all, is vety visible in the young as in the 
old. • . . Sixteen thousand strangers at Bath in the 
season 1805 1'' 

Of Bath itself we hear in the satirical skit called 
The New Guide — I 

*' Of all the gay places the world can afford, 
By gentle and simple for pastime adored, 
Fine balls, and fine concerts, fine buildings and springs. 
Fine walks and fine views and a thousand fine things. 
Not to mention the sweet situation and air, 
What place, my dear mother, with Bath can compare?" 

There is little reason to doubt that Jane would 
thoroughly enjoy the change afforded by such constant 
opportunity for diversion, such delightful mingling with 
a crowd in which her bright humour must have found 
frequent opportunities for indulgence. 

As we have seen, she had written ker first Bath 
book, Northanger Abbey y many years before, and while 
she sat in the Pump Room, awaited a partner in the 
Assembly Rooms, or shopped in Milsom Street, she 
must have recalled her own creations, Catherine 
Morland and Isabella Thorpe, Henry Tilney and Mrs. 
Allen, quite as vividly as if they were real p^^ons of 
her acquaintance. 

The second Bath book. Persuasion^ was not written 
until many yc^p after, yet these two, chronologically 

BATH 225 

so far apart, topographically so near each other, have 
always been, owing to conditions of length, bound 
together. 1 

This is Jane's own account of her first ball after / 
coming to live at Bath : " I dressed myself as well as 1 
I could, and had all my finery much admired at home. 
By nine o'clock my uncle, aunt, and I entered the 
Rooms, and linked Miss Winstone on to us. Before 
tea it was rather a dull affair; but then tea did not 
last long, for there was only one dance, danced by 
four couple, think of four couple surrounded by about 
an hundred people dancing in the Upper Rooms at 
Bath! After tea we cheered up; the breaking up of 
private parties sent some scores more to the ball, and 
though it was shockingly and inhumanly thin for this 
place, there were people enough, I suppose, to have 
made five or six very pretty Basingstoke assemblies." 

It is interesting to compare this with her account of 
her heroine, Catherine Morland's first appearance : " Mrs. 
Allen was so long in dressing, that they did not enter 
the ball-room till late. The season was full, the room 
crowded, and the two ladies squeezed in as well as 
they could. As for Mr. Allen he repaired directly to 
the card-room and left them to enjoy a mob by them- 
selves. With more care for the safety of her new gown 
than for the comfort of her protegee, Mrs. Allen made 
her way through the throng of men by the door, as 
swiftly as the necessary caution would allow ; Catherine, 
however, kept close at her side, and linked her arm 
too firmly within her friend's to be torn asunder by 
any common effort of a struggling assembly. But to 
her utter amazement she found that to proceed along 
the room was by no means the way to disengage 
themselves from the crowd ; it seemed rather to increase 
as they went on ; whereas she had imagined that when 



once fairly within the door, they should easily find 
seats, and be able to watch the dances with perfect 
convenience. But this was far from being the case; 
and though by unwearied diligence they gained even 
the top of the room, their situation was just the same ; 
they saw nothing of the dancers, but the high feathers 
of some of the ladies. Still they moved on, something 
better was yet in view ; and by a continued exertion of 
strength and ingenuity they found themselves at last 
in the passage behind the highest bench. Here there 
was something less of crowd than below; and hence 
Miss Morland had a comprehensive view of all the 
company beneath her, and of all the dangers of her 
late passage through them. It was a splendid sight, 
and she began, for the first time that evening, to feel 
herself at a ball, she longed to dance, but she had not 
an acquaintance in the room. • . • Everybody was 
shortly in motion for tea, and they must squeeze out 
like the rest . . . and when they at last arrived in the 
tea-room . . . they were obliged to sit down at the end 
of a table, at which a large party were already placed, 
without having anything to do there, or anybody to 
speak to except each other. . . . Afler some time they 
received an offer of tea from one of their neighbours ; 
it was thankfully accepted, and this introduced a light 
conversation with the gentleman who offered it, which 
was the only time that anybody spoke to them during 
the evening, till they were discovered and joined by 
Mr. Allen when the dance was over. 

« * Well, Miss Morland,' said he directly, * I hope you 
have had an agreeable ball/ 

"'Very agreeable indeed,' she replied, vainly en- 
deavouring to hide a great yawn." 

But poor Catherine was much more fortunate in 
her second essay, being introduced to Henry Tilney, 


the hero, who captivated her girlish adrntfation, and 
who at last, struck by her nalviti and earnest affixtioo 
for himself, fell in love with her and made her his 

In Narthanger Abbey^ Jane places the Thorpes in 
Edgar Buildings, which she always spells '^Edg^s,'' 
the Tilneys in Milsom Street, and Catherine Morland 
with the Aliens in Pulteney Street Her topogn^^ 
is always very exact and unimpeachable. Milsom 
Street also plays a large part in PersmasioH. It is 
here that Anne comes across Admiral Croft looking 
into a print shop window, from whence he accompanies 
her back to Camden Place where her father and sister 
are, and in the course of the walk Anne learns, to 
her infinite relief, that Louisa Musgrove is engaged 
to Captain Benwick, so that the terrible tfaoii£^t that 
she might hear any day of her engagement to Captain 
Wentworth is dispelled for ever. In Milsom Street also, 
while sheltering in a shop from the rain, she first sees 
Captain Wentworth after his arrival in Bath, and on 
his coming accidentally into the same shop with some 
friends, both he and she are unable to hide their signs 
of perturbation. But it is at a concert in the Upper 
Rooms that Anne goes through far worse disquietude, 
while, with the tormenting uncertainty of an undeclared 
love, she sits wondering whether he will come to speak 
to her or not. 

It is at the White Hart Inn, which overlooked the 
entrance to the Pump Room Arcade, that the real crisis 
of the book takes place. Here Anne, on coming to 
spend the day with her sister Mary, Mrs. Charles 
Musgrove, who is staying there with her husband, finds 
Captain Harville and Captain Wentworth, It is her 
conversation with the former that reveals to the latter 
her own unchanged feelings, and gives him the courage 


to write her a letter declaring once more his own love, 
after the lapse of many years. Anne is thereby re- 
warded for her gentle loyalty, and when in going up 
Union Street with her brother-in-law she is overtaken 
by Captain Wentworth, and handed over to his charge, 
mutual explanations are made and mutual happiness 

Certainly to the lovers of Jane Austen's books these 
characters people the streets quite as vividly as any 
flesh-and-blood persons who have ever lived in them. 


JANE AUSTEN had a lively and natural interest in 
dress, and her letters abound in allusions to fashions, 
new clothes, and contrivances for bringing into the 
mode those that had fallen behind it She cannot have 
had much chance of seeing new fashions at Steventon, 
but when she went to a town her instincts revived. 
During her visit to Bath, 1799, when she was staying 
with her brother Edward and his wife Elizabeth, and 
some of their children, she writes — 

" My cloak is come home, I like it very much, and 
can now exclaim with delight, like J. Bond at hay 
harvest, 'This is what I have been looking for these 
three years/ I saw some gauzes in a shop in Bath 
Street yesterday at only fourpence a yard, but they were 
not so good or so pretty as mine. Flowers are very 
much worn, and fruit is still more the thing. Elizabeth 
has a bunch of strawberries, and I have seen grapes, 
cherries, plums, and apricots. There are likewise 
almonds and raisins, French plums, and tamarinds at the 
grocers', but I have never seen any of them in hats. A 
plum or greengage would cost three shillings; cherries 
and grapes about five, I believe, but this is at some of 
the dearest shops." 

The fashion to which she refers was soon carried to 
excess ; Hannah More in her Diary says that she met 




women who had on their heads ^ an acre and a half of 
shrubbery, besides slopes, grass-plats, tulip beds, clumps 
of peonies, kitchen-gardens, and green-houses," and she 
''had no doubt that they held in great contempt our 
roseless heads and leafless necks." 

'' Some ladies cany on their heads a lai^e quantity 
of fruit, and yet they would despise a poor useful 
member of society who carried it there for the purpose of 
selling it for bread." 

This fashion continued to increase until it was 
mimicked by Garrick, who appeared on the stage with a 
mass of vegetables on his head, and a large carrot 
hanging from each side, and ridicule killed the folly. It 
seems quite certain that fashion, which never reached 
such grotesque monstrosities as in the lifetime of Jane 
Austen, hardly touched, in its extremer modes, herself 
and her sister, who kept to the simpler styles with good 
taste. In fact the jest about the grocers shows that Jane 
herself saw the humour of the thing even when living in 
the very midst of it, a most unusual acuteness. She 
describes her own hat in the same letter as being '' A 
pretty hat, — a pretty style of hat too. It is something 
like Eliza's, only, instead of being all straw, half of it is 
narrow purple ribbon," which seems simple enoughs 

What one would like to get is some mental picture 
of Jane as she appeared indoors and out of doors, and 
this is extremely difficult. In the illustration '' Dressing 
to go Out," by Tomkins, we get some idea of everyday 
fashions. The simple style of a plain material, with 
perhaps a little spot or sprig upon it, of soft muslin, 
made with a flowing skirt, and a chemisette folded in, 
and with sleeves reaching only to the elbow, was doubt- 
less the most ordinary kind of indoor dress for women ; 
add to this a cap, and this is as near as we can get 
to Jane's usual appearance. The caps, however, varied 






greatly, being worn both indoors and also for driving. 
Mr Austen-Leigh remarks that Jane and her sister took 
to wearing caps earlier in life than was generally the 
custom, but, on the contrary, caps were worn by very 
young girls at this period, for Mrs. Papendick says in 
her Journal, which is contemporary, that no young girl 
of eighteen was seen in public without some head- 
covering of this description. We learn many particulars 
of the different kinds of cap worn by Jane from her own 

" I have made myself two or three caps to wear of 
evenings since I came home, and they save me a world of 
torment as to hairdressing which at present gives me no 
trouble beyond washing and brushing, for my long hair 
is always plaited up out of sight, and my short hair curls 
well enough to want no papering." 

" I took the liberty a few days ago of asking your 
black velvet bonnet to lend me its caul, which it readily 
did, and by which I have been enabled to give a con- 
siderable improvement of dignity to the cap, which was 
before too nidgetty to please me. ... I still venture to retain 
the narrow silver round it, put twice round without any 
bow, and instead of the black military feather shall put 
in the coquelicot one as being smarter, and besides 
coquelicot is to be all the fashion this winter. After 
the ball I shall probably make it entirely black." 

" I am not to wear my white satin cap to-night after 
all ; I am to wear a mamalouc cap instead, which Charles 
Fowle sent to Mary, and which she lends me. It is all 
the fashion now, worn at the opera, and by Lady Mildmay 
at Hackwood balls." 

The word "mamalouc" was used at this time to 
describe many articles of dress ; it had come into fashion 
after Nelson's great victory in Egypt, and there were 
mamalouc cloaks as well as caps, but whether these 


articles of attire bore tbe most distant resemblance to 
those worn in Kgypt^ or whether the word was tacked 
on to them merely for the purpose of advertisement, I 
do not know. Another cap Jane mentions seems to 
have been much more pert : " Miss Hare had some pretty 
caps and is to make me one like one of them, only white 
satin instead of blue. It will be satin and lace and a 
little white flower perking out of the left ear, like Harriot 
Byron's feather. I have allowed her to go as far as one 
pound sixteen." ^ My cap has come home, and I like it 
very much, Fanny has one also, hers is white sarsenet 
and lace, of a difTerent shape from mine, more fit for 
morning carriage wear, which is what it is intended for, 
and is in shape exceedingly like our own satin and lace 
of last winter, shaped round the face exactly like it, with 
pipes and more fulness and a round crown inserted 
behind. My cap has a peak in front Large full bows 
of very narrow ribbon (old twopenny) are the thing. 
One over the right temple perhaps, and another at the 
left ear." 

Some ladies used to hang at the back of their 
turban-like caps four or five ostrich feathers of different 
colours. But apparently a bow or a bit of ribbon some- 
times was worn instead of a cap, and supposed to re- 
present it, just as a bit of wire and gauze a few years 
ago was supposed to be a toque. In one place Jane 
says — 

" I wore at the ball your favourite gown, a bit of 
muslin of the same round my head bordered with Mrs. 
Cooper's band, and one little comb." 

The fashion of caps for middle-aged ladies has so 
recently gone out that it is well remembered, but the 
fashion of night-caps, which belongs to a much older 
generation, seems to us now curious. They were then 
an essential part of a wardrobe; Henry Bickersteth, 


afterwards Lord Langdale, writes to his mother in 1 800, 
" I must give you my thanks for the supply of linen you 
have sent me ; it was indeed seasonable, as that which I 
had before was completely worn out. I am still obliged 
to solicit some night-caps." He was then only a boy of 
sixteen, and the vision of all the boys in a school going 
to bed in night-caps is a funny one. 

Head-dresses reached their climax of absurdity at the 
end of the eighteenth century, but the styles varied so 
much that almost everyone could please themselves. 
At a famous trial only a few ladies were dressed in the 
French taste. " All the rest, decked in the finest manner 
with brocades, diamonds, and lace, had no other head- 
dress, but a ribband tied to their hair, over which they 
wore a flat hat, adorned with a variety of ornaments. It 
requires much observation to be able to give full account 
of the great effect produced by this hat ; it affords the 
ladies who wear it that arch and roguish air, which the 
winged hat gives to Mercury." And Sir Walter Besant 
says: *'The women wore hoods, small caps, enormous 
hats, tiny milkmaid's straw hats ; hair in curls and flat 
to the head ; * pompoms,* or huge structures two or three 
feet high, with all kinds of decorations — ribbons, birds' 
nests, ships, carriages and waggons in gold and silver 
lace — in tihe erection." 

" Nothing can be conceived so absurd, extragavant, 
fantastical, as the present mode of dressing the head. 
Simplicity and modesty are things so much exploded, 
that the very names are no longer remembered. I have 
just escaped from one of the most fashionable disflgurers ; 
and though I charged him to dress me with the greatest 
simplicity, and to have only a very distant eye upon the 
fashion, just enough to avoid the pride of singularity 
without running into ridiculous excess, yet in spite of all 
these sage didactics, I absolutely blush at myself and 


turn to the glass with as much caution as a vain beauty, 
just risen fix>m the small-pox, which cannot be a more 
disfiguring disease than the present mode of dressing." 
(H. More, 1775) 

But in 1787 a great change occurred in the mode of 
hair-dressing, the huge cushions disappeared and the 
main part of the hair was gathered together at the back 
in a chignon from which one or two loose curls were 
allowed to escape. 

The long feathers, which have already been com- 
mented on, varied in number from three to one, and 
continued to be worn well on into the nineteenth century. 
These feathers appeared in turbans, bonnets, and head- 
dresses of all kinds, and hardly a picture of the period 
representing ladies at a card-table does not show one or 
more of these ludicrous quivering monstrosities. 

Samuel Rogers says that he had been to Ranelagh 
in a coach with a lady who was obliged to sit on a stool 
on the floor of the coach on account of the height of her 

Fantastic headgear was not in Jane's line, all the 
accounts of her hats and bonnets are simple. ** My 
mother has ordered a new bonnet and so have I ; both 
white strip trimmed with white ribbon. I find my stravr 
bonnet looking very much like other people's and quite 
as smart. Bonnets of cambric muslin are a good deal 
worn, and some of them are very pretty, but I shall 
defer one of that sort until your arrival." 

In the last ten years of the century, poke bonnets 
and Dunstable hats were much in evidence, and with 
flowing curls, and flowing ribbons tied in a large bow 
under the chin, were sometimes not unbecoming to a 
pretty face. 

But in Jane's lifetime the strangest fashion, that ever 
caused discomfort to a whole nation, gradually died 


down, dial is to say the use of wigs. Yet that they 
were worn so late as 1 814 is shown hy Jane's lemark in 
one of the letteis. ^ My brother and Edward (his son) 
arrived last rd^bt Their bnaness is about teeth and 

Nothing quickened the depaitaxe of the wig so 
much as the tax put on hair powder by Pitt in 1785 ; 
people argued that they did not mind the money, but 
they thought it so iniquitous to tax powder that they 
left off wearing powdeied wigs to spite the Grovemment, 
and probably, once having discovered the comfort of 
doing without these hideous evils, they would never 
return to them. Yet that the wig, even in its h^day, 
was not universally worn is shown by the fact that King 
Geoi^ III. himself refused to wear one. The king's 
'' hair, which is veiy thick, and of the finest light colour, 
tied behind with a ribband, and dressed by the hand of 
the queen, is one of his most striking ornaments. Not- 
withstanding this, the peruke makers have presented an 
address to tide king, requesting His Majesty that, for the 
good of their body and the nation, he would be pleased 
to wear a wig." (Grosley.) 

No one has given a better account of the wig than 
Sir Walter Besant, he says: "The wig was a great 
leveller . . . with the wig it mattered nothing whether 
one was bald or not Again the wig was a g^reat pro- 
tection for the head ; it saved the wearer from the effects 
of cold draughts ; it was part of the comfort of the age 
like the sash window and the wainscoted wall. And the 
wig, too, like the coat and the waistcoat, was a means of 
showing the wealth of its owner, because a wig of the 
best kind, new, properly curled and combed, cost a large 
sum of money. Practically it was indestructible, and 
with certain alterations descended. First it was left by 
will to son or heir ; next it was given to the coachman ; 



then, with alterations, to the gardener ; then it went to 
the second-hand people in Monmouth Street, whence it 
continued a downward course until it finally entered 
upon its last career of usefulness in the shoeblack's box. 
There was lastly an excellent reason why in the 
eighteenth century it was found more convenient to wear 
a wig than the natural hair. Those of the lower classes 
who were not in domestic service wore their own hair. 
Their heads were filled with vermin — ^these vermin were 
very easily caught — now the man who shaved his head 
and wore a wig was free of this danger." {London in the 
Eighteenth Century^ 

We know that Dr. Johnson's wigs were a constant 
source of trouble, for they were not only dirty and 
unkempt, but generally burnt away in the front, for being 
very nearsighted, he often put his head into the candle 
when poring over his books. Whenever he was staying 
with the Thrales therefore the butler used to waylay him 
as he passed in to dinner, and pull off the wig on his 
head, replacing it with a new one. 

Ladies rarely appeared without head-dresses of some 
kind, be it only a bow or an ornamental comb, they 
seemed to think that a woman should be seen with her 
\ "iiSad covered in every place as well as in church. Near 
^' the end of Cecilia the flighty Lady Honoria cries, " * Why 
you know sir as to caps and wigs, they are very serious 
things, for we should look mighty droll figures to go 
about bareheaded,*" which shows how entirely custom 
dictates what appears " mighty droll " or quite ordinary. 

Wigs were sometimes the cause of ludicrous incidents, 
as when in the House of Commons Lord North suddenly 
rising from his seat and going out bore ofl* on the hilt 
of his sword the wig of Welbore Ellis who happened 
to be stooping forward. 

Many people, when wigs began to go out of fashion. 

» — 


powdered their own hair, and of this Besant gives us 
also an unpleasant but speaking picture: ''Among the 
minor miseries of life is to be mentioned the slipping and 
sliding of lumps of the powder and pomatum from the 
head down to the plate at dinner." 

Even boys at school wore queues. Of a ^master at 
Eton it is said that his management of the boys, excellent 
in other respects, was in some things amiss, for ''he 
burnt all their ruffles, and cut off their queues." 

The Times of April 14, 1795, mentions that*: "A 
numerous club has been formed in Lambeth called the 
Crop Club, every member of which, on his entrance, is 
obliged to have his head docked as close as the Duke of 
Bridgewater's old bay coach horses. This assembls^e 
is instituted for the purpose of opposing, or rather evad- 
ing, the tax on powdered heads." 

The use of powder is mentioned in. Jane Austen's 
story The Watsons^ and is one of the very few touches 
she gives that carry us backward in time. Mrs. Robert 
Watson is speaking to her sisters-in-law, " ' I would not 
make you wait,' said she, ' so I put on the first thing I 
met with. I am afraid I am a sad figure. My dear Mr. 
W. (addressing her husband) you have not put any fresh 
powder in your hair.' 

" ' No, I do not intend it, I think there is powder 
enough in my hair for my wife and sisters.' 

" ' Indeed, you ought to make some alteration in your 
dress before dinner when you are out visiting, though you 
do not at home.' 

" ' Nonsense ! ' 

" Dinner came, and except when Mrs. Robert looked 
at her husband's head she continued gay and flippant." 

Later, when Tom Musgrave arrives, " Robert Watson, 
stealing a view of his own head in an opposite glass, 
said with equal civility, ' You cannot be more in deshabille 


than myself. We got here so late that I had not time 
even to put a little fresh powder in my hair.' " 

The powders used were very various. 

^ And now we are upon vanities, what do you think 
is the reigning mode as to powder ? only tumerick, that 
coarse dye that stains yellow. It falls out of the hair 
and stains the skin so, that every pretty lady must look 
as yellow as a crocus, which I suppose will come a 
better compliment than as white as a lily." (Mrs. 

Flour was frequently used for powdering heads, and 
in 1795 flour was very scarce and enormously valuable. 
In the same year when the powder tax was passed, the 
Privy Council ** implored all families to abjure puddings 
and pies, and declared their own intention to have only 
fish, meat, vegetables, and household bread, made partly 
of rye. It was recommended that one quartern loaf per 
head per week should be a maximum allowance. The 
loaf was to be brought on the table for each to help 
himself, that none be wasted. The king himself had 
none but household bread on his table. In 1801 the 
Government offered bounties on the importation of all 
kinds of grain and flour, and passed the Brown Bread 
Act (1800) forbidding the sale of wheaten bread, or new 
bread of any kind, as stale bread would go further (Mary 
Bateson in Social England). This scarcity and deamess 
of bread is a thing never felt in the pres^it day, when 
lumps of the best white bread are flung in heaps in the 
squares and streets of London, and disdained even by 
tramps and beggars, and when boys in the North Country 
go round with sacks begging bits of bread which they 
afterwards use for feeding ponies or horses ! 

Many epigrams and bon mots were made on the new 
powder tax; a tax on dogs had at that time been 
generally expected, so one wit wrote — 


" Full many a chance or dire mishap/ 
Ofttimes 'twixt the lip and the cup is; 
The tax that should have hung our dogi, 
Excuses them, and fiedls on puppies." 

Of the inconveniences attending the use of powder 
the following anecdote is an instance — 

"At one of Lady Crewe's dinner parties, Grattan, 
after talking very delightfully for some time, all at 
once seemed disconcerted, and sunk into silence. I 
asked his daughter, who was sitting next to me, the 
reason of this. ' Oh,' she replied, * he has just found 
out that he has come here in his powdering coat/ " 
(Samuel Rogers, Table Talk.) 

The Act claimed one guinea a year from every user 
of powder, and was calculated to bring in about 
;f400,ooo per annum. The Royal Family, clergymen 
whose incomes were under a hundred pounds, subalterns 
and all below that rank in the army, officers in the navy 
under the rank of commander, and all below the two 
eldest unmarried daughters of a family were exempt. 

Walter Savage Landor was the first of undei^aduates 
at Oxford to do without powder, and was told he would 
be stoned for a republican. 

"The regular academic costume, so late as 1799, 
consisted of knee breeches of any colour, and white 
stockings. The sun of wigs had not even then set ; they 
covered the craniums of nearly all dons and heads of 
houses. The gentlemen wore their hair tied up behind 
in a thin loop called a pigtail ; footmen wore their hair 
tied up behind in a thick loop called a hoop." (Sydney, 
Eng/and and the English^ 

In regard to the rest of the costume of ladies, the 
most noticeable points of the mode were the high waists 
and long flowing skirts clinging tightly to the figure. 
This, if not carried to excess, was certainly becoming. 


but fashion cannot be content with mediocrity, it must 
be extravagant Consequently, " With very low bodices 
and very high waists, came very scanty clothing, with 
an absence of petticoat, a fashion which left very little 
of the form to the imagination. I do not say that 
our English belles went to the extent of some of their 
French sisters, of having their muslin dresses put on 
damp — and holding them tight to their figures till they 
dried — ^so as absolutely to mould them to their form .... 
but their clothes were of the scantiest, and as year 
succeeded year, this fashion developed, if one can call 
diminution of clothing development." (John Ashton, Old 

It is difficult to give any consecutive account of 
fashions extending over such a long period, for they 
varied as frequently then as they do now, however, here 
are a few notes. 

Coquelicot, that is poppy colour, was very fashionable, 
Jane as we have seen adopted it ; at one time no 
lady's dress was considered complete without a dash of 
coquelicot in sash or trimmings. 

Jane frequently mentions her cloak ; this would not 
be what ladies call a cloak now, but more what would 
be described as a fichu or tippet, covering the shoulders 
and having long ends which fell like a stole in front, 
some of the modern fur stoles are in fact made very 
much on the same pattern; no lady's wardrobe seems 
to have been complete without at least one black silk 
cloak of this sort. Dresses were cut low in front, either 
in V shape or curved, and even in winter this custom 
was followed; a silk handkerchief was sometimes folded 
crosswise over the opening, but very generally, though 
warmly dressed in other respects, a lady had her neck 
quite uncovered. The short sleeves which went with low 
necks necessitated the use of long gloves, which reached 


above the elbow and were tied there with ribbon. The 
high waists made the bodice of the dress so small that 
it was of very little consequence, and sometimes was 
formed merely by a folded bit of material like a fichu. 
This was covered by that fashionable and characteristic 
garment, the pelisse. It was not considered proper for 
very young girls to wear pelisses, they wore cloaks, but 
the pelisse did not really differ very greatly from the 
cloak, for it was like a long open coat, fitting closely 
to the arm, but falling straight in long ends from the 
armholes, thus leaving the front of the dress exposed 
in a panel ; later, pelisses became more voluminous and 
completely covered the dress, fastening in front 

Mrs. Papendick says, "The outdoor equipment in 
those days, when pelisses and great-coats of woollen were 
not worn by girls, was a black cloak of a silk called 
* mode,' stiff, glossy, wadded, armholes with a sleeve to 
the wrist from them, a small muff, and a quaker-shaped 
bonnet all of the same material." 

Huge muffs were very common, and this is one of 
the features of the dress of that date which is generally 
remembered because of its singularity. 

The small girls were dressed in long skirts plainly 
made, and their robes must have precluded any 
possibility of romping; the short skirts and long 
stockinged legs of our present mode would have made 
them stare indeed. 

As for the materials for dresses, they were of course 
much less varied than the inventions of printing and 
machinery allow women to use nowadays. Plain 
muslins, or muslins embroidered at the edge, were most 
common, though there were other materials such as taffeta, 
sarsenet, and bombazine. We must realise also that 
any lace used in trimming must have been real lace, 
there was no machine-made stuff at 2fd. a yard 


with which every servant girl could deck herself as 
she does now. India muslins were extremely popular, 
and seemed to have been worn quite r^^ardless of the 
climate, which according to accounts, our grandmothers 
notwithstanding, does not seem to have changed 

When Lady Newdigate was at Brighton in 1797 she 
writes to her husband : '' Do ask of your female croneys 
if they have any wants in the muslin way. Nothing 
else is worn in gowns by any rank of people, but I 
don't know that I can get them cheaper here, but great 
choice there is, very beautiful and real India." 

In January 1801, Jane writes from Steventon, ^I 
shall want two new coloured gowns for the summer, 
for my pink one will not do more than clear me from 
Steventon. I shall not trouble you, however, to get 
more than one of them, and that is to be a plain brown 
cambric muslin, for morning wear; the other, which is 
to be a very pretty yellow and white cloud, I mean 
to buy in Bath. Buy two brown ones, if you please, and 
both of a length, but one longer than the other — it is 
for a tall woman. Seven 3rards for my mother, seven 
yards and a half for me ; a dark brown, but the kind 
of brown is left to your own choice, and I had rather 
they were different as it will be always something to 
say, to dispute about, which is the prettiest They 
must be cambric muslin." 

,Ten years later muslins are still fashionable. '* I 
am sorry to tell you that I am getting very extravagant 
[she was at this time in London] and spending all my 
money, and what is worse for you, I have been spending 
all yours too; for in a linendraper's shop to which I 
went for checked muslin, and for which I was obliged 
to give seven shillings a yard, I was tempted by a 
pretty coloured muslin and bought ten yards of it on 


the chance of your ISdi^ it ; but, at the same time, if it 
should not suit you, you must not think yourself at all 
obliged to take it It is only three and six per yard, 
and I should not in the least mind taking the whole. 
In texture it is just what we prefer, but its resemblance 
to green crewels I must own is not great, for the pattern 
is a small red spot" 

That silly and affected nomenclature for the dress 
fabrics was in use then as it is still, is apparent 
from Hannah More's remark, ''One lady asked what 
was the newest colour; the other answered that the 
most truly fashionable silk was a soupgon de vert^ lined 
with a saupir etauffie et bradie de Vespirance ; now you 
must not consult your old-fashioned dictionary for the 
word espirance for you will there find that it means 
nothing but hope, whereas espirancem the new language 
of the time means rose-buds." 

The most particular description of a dress Jane ever 
gives is almost minute enough to be followed by a 
dressmaker : '' It is to be a round gown, with a jacket and 
a frock front, to open at the side. The jacket is all in 
one with the body, and comes as far as the pocket holes 
— about half a quarter of a yard deep, I suppose, all the 
way round, cut off straight at the corners with a broad 
hem. No fulness appears either in the body or the flap, 
the back is quite plain — and the side. equally so. The 
front is sloped round to the bosom and drawn in, and 
there is to be a frill of the same to put on occasionally 
when all one's handkerchiefs are dirty, which frill must 
fall back. She is to put two breadths and a half in the 
tail, and no gores — gores not being so much worn as 
they were. There is nothing new in the sleeves ; they 
are to be plain, with a fulness of the same falling down 
and gathered up underneath. Low in the back behindi 
and a belt of the same." 





It is of course most obvious that the ludicrous fashions 
and enormous erections, which were carried by the 
leaders of fashion, did not affect quiet country girls ; just 
as in our own time the distorted sleeves or ever-changing 
skirts, and all the vagaries of the smart set, are known 
and seen by hundreds who daily go about in perfectly 
simple clothes which yet can not be called unfashionable 
because they conform in main points to the dictates of 
the fashion of the moment without going to excess. 

Two more characteristic quotations from the letters 
must be given — 

" How do you like your flounce ? We have seen 
only plain flounces. I hope you have not cut off the 
train of your bombazine. I cannot reconcile myself to 
giving them up as morning gowns; they are so very 
sweet by candlelight. I would rather sacrifice my blue 
one for that purpose ; in short I do not know, and I do 
not care," and in the following year, " I have determined 
to trim my lilac sarsenet with lilac satin ribbon just as 
my chine crape is. Sixpenny width at bottom, three- 
penny or fourpenny at top. Ribbon trimmings are all 
the fashion at Bath. With this addition it will be a 
very useful gown, happy to go anywhere." 

In one small point the lady of the eighteenth century 
resembled her successor of to-day. 

The Times of November 9, 1799, notes: "What 
is still more remarkable is the total abjuration of the 
female pocket . . . every fashionable fair carries her 
purse in her workbag, and she has the pleasure of laying 
everything that belongs to her upon the table wherever 
she goes." 

Hoops were worn in Court dress long after they 
were abandoned elsewhere, someone describes them as 
f the "excrescences and balconies with which modem 

hoydens overwhelm and barricade their persons." Apart 


from this survival at Court, dress was generally long and 

At one of the Drawing Rooms of 1 796 crape was 
all the fashion; Princess Augusta was dressed in "a 
rich gold embroidered crape petticoat in leaves across, 
intersected with blue painted foil in shaded spots, having 
the appearance of stripes from top to bottom ; orna- 
mented with a rich embroidered border in festoons of 
blue shaded satin and gold spangles. Pocket holes 
ornamented with broad gold lace, and blue embroidered 
satin bows ; white and gold body and train." There are 
many other costumes described at the same Drawing 
Room, from which we gather that the hair was dressed 
very full and high, and quite off the ears, and that 
bandeaus of gold or silver lace, or black velvet embroid- 
ered with gold, were run through it. Gold and silver 
artificial flowers were also very commonly worn, and 
some ladies had plumes. There were also a few 
caps. '^ The ladies all wore full dress neckerchiefs with 
point lace, sufficiently open to display irresistible 

Men's dress of the same period was most magnificent, 
and perhaps the feature of it that would strike one most 
in contrast with modern fashions, would be its variety 
of colour; coats and waistcoats were always coloured, 
black was only donned for mourning. Gold and silver 
lace and figured brocades, with lace cuffs and ruffies, 
were essential to a beau. Horace Walpole notes at 
the wedding of a nepheW that, except for himself, 
there wasn't a bit of gold lace anywhere in the dress 
of the men, and he considered it altogether as a very 
poor affair. 

A fairly good idea of -the different degrees of plain- 
ness and ornament in the clothes worn by gentlemen 
may be gathered from Reynold's portrait group of Inigo 



Jones, Hon. H. Fane, and C. Blair which was done at 
this time. 

The following is the wordrobe of a fashionable man 
of the time. " My wardrobe consisted of five fashionable 
coats full mounted, two of which were plain, one of cut 
velvet, one trimmed with gold, and another with silver 
lace ; two frocks, one of which was drab with large plate 
buttons, the other of blue with gold binding ; one waist- 
coat of gold brocade, one of blue satin, embroidered with 
silver, one of ^een silk trimmed with broad figured gold 
lace ; one of black silk with fringes ; one of white satin, 
one of black cloth and one of scarlet ; six pairs of cloth 
breeches, one pair of crimson, and another of black 
velvet ; twelve pair of white silk stockings, as many of 
black silk, and the same number of fine cotton ; one hat 
laced with gold Point d'Espagne; another with silver 
lace scalloped, a third gold binding, and a fourth plain ; 
three dozen of fine ruffled shirts, as many neckcloths ; 
one dozen of cambric handkerchiefs, and the like number 
of silk. A gold watch with a chased case [it was the 
fashion to wear two watches at one time during the 
century], two valuable diamond rings, two morning 
swords, one with a silver handle, and a fourth cut steel 
inlaid with gold ; a diamond stock buckle and a set of 
stone buckles for the knees and shoes ; a pair of silver 
mounted pistols with rich housings ; a gold headed cane, 
and a snuff box of tortoiseshell, mounted with gold, 
having the picture of a lady on the top." 

In Tie New Guide already quoted, the following 
account is put into the mouth of a young gentleman of 
fashion : — 

"I ride in a chair with my hands in a muff, 
And have bought a silk coat and embroidered the cuff. 
But the weather was cold, and the coat it was thin. 
So the tailor advised me to line it with skin. 




But what with my Niveraois hat can compare, 
Bag-wig, and laced ruffles, and black solitaire? j 
And what can a man of true fashion denote. 
Like an ell of good ribbon tied under the throat ? 
My buckles and box are in exquisite taste, 
The one is of paper, the other of paste." 

Fox, when a very young man, was a prodigious 
dandy, wearing a little odd French hat, shoes with red 
heels, etc. He and Lord Carlisle once travelled from 
Paris to Lyons for the express purpose of buying waist- 
coats ; and during the whole journey they talked about 
nothing else. (S. Rogers, Table Talk.) 

Jane Austen's brother Edward would dress, as 
befitted his position, with greater variety of colour and 
style than his clergyman father and brother. It was 
the usual thing for a clergyman to dress in black, with 
knee-breeches and white stock, but it was not essential. 
In Northanger Abbey when Henry Tilney is first intro- 
duced to Catherine in the Lower Rooms at Bath, there 
is nothing in his attire to indicate that he is a clergyman, 
a fact which she only learns subsequently. 

In ordinary civilian dress, men wore long green, blue, 
or brown cloth coats with stocks and frilled rufHes. In 
the Man of Feeling a man casually met with is wearing 
''a brownish coat with a narrow gold edging, and his 
companion an old green frock with a buff coloured waist- 
coat," while an ex-footman trying to play the gentleman 
has on " a white frock and a red laced waistcoat." 

At that time footgear for men consisted of slippers 
in the house, and riding-boots for out of doors. When 
Beau Nash was forming the assemblies at Bath, as has 
been said he made a dead set against the habit some 
men had of wearing boots in the dancing-room. "The 
gentlemen's boots also made a very desperate stand 
against him, the country squires were by no means sub- 




missive to his usurpations, and probably his authority 
alone would never have carried him through, had he 
not reinforced it with ridicule." His ridicule took the 
form of a squib, one verse of which was as follows : — 

** Come Trollops and Slatterns, 
Cockt hats and white aprons, 

This best our modesty siiits; 
For why should not we 
In dress be as free 

As Hogs-Norton squires in boots." 

"The keenness, severity, and particularly the good 
rhymes of this little morceau which was at that time 
highly relished by many of the nobility at Bath, gained 
him a temporary triumph. But to push his victories 
he got' up a puppet show, in which Punch came in, 
booted and spurred in the character of a country squire. 
When told to pull off his boots he replies: — ^*Why, 
madam, you may as well bid me pull off my legs. I 
never go without boots, I never ride, I never dance 
without them ; and this piece of politeness is quite the 
thing in Bath. We always dance at our town in boots, 
and the ladies often move minuets in riding boots.' 
From this time few ventured to appear at the assemblies 
in Bath in riding dress." {Life of Nash^ ^77^-) 


FOR two and a half years, that is to say from 
May 1 80 1 to September 1 804, we do not hear 
any more of Jane Austen from her own correspondence. 
Then, while she was staying at Lyme, she sent a letter 
to her sister which is given in Mr. Austen-Leigh's 
Memoir, It will be remembered that part of the scene 
in Persuasion takes place at Lyme, where the principal 
characters are transported, and where Louisa Musgrove 
meets with her accident. Captain Wentworth's friend, 
Captain Harville, had settled there for the winter, and 
wrote such a glowing account of the fine country around 
that "the young people were all wild to see Lyme." 
The party that finally went were the heroine, Anne 
Elliot herself, her brother and sister-in-law, her two 
friends, Henrietta and Louisa Musgrove, and her 
quondam lover, Captain Wentworth, who was at this 
time paying rather more attention to Louisa Musgrove 
than could be borne with easiness by poor Anne, who 
had realised the dreadful mistake she had made in giving 
him up seven years before. " They were come too late 
in the year for any amusement or variety which Lyme, 
as a public place might offer; the rooms were shut up, 
the lodgers almost gone, scarcely any family but the 
residents left — and as there is nothing to admire in the 
buildings themselves, the remarkable situation of the 



town, the principal street almost hurrying into the water, 
the walk to the Cobb, skirting round the pleasant little 
bay, which in the season is animated with bathing 
machines and company ; the Cobb itself, its old wonders 
and new improvements, with the very beautiful line of 
cliffs stretching out to the east of the town, are what 
the stranger's eye will seek ; and a very strange stranger 
it must be who does not see charms in the immediate 
environs of Lyme to make him wish to know it better. 
The scenes in its neighbourhood, Charmouth, with its 
high grounds and extensive sweeps of country, and still 
more its sweet retired bay, backed by dark cliffs, where 
fragments of low rock among the sands make it the 
happiest spot for watching the flow of the tide, for 
sitting in unwearied contemplation ; the woody varieties 
of the cheerful vista of Up Lyme ; and, above all. Pinny, 
with its green chasms between romantic rocks, where the 
scattered forest trees and orchards of luxuriant growth 
declare that many a generation must have passed away 
since the first partial falling of the cliff prepared the 
ground for such a state, where a scene so wonderful and 
so lovely is exhibited, as may more than equal any of 
the resembling scenes of the far-famed Isle of Wight; 
these places must be visited, and visited again, to make 
the worth of Lyme understood." 

It is wonderful that Jane should have remembered 
in such detail a place which she had apparently only 
seen on one visit, and that many years before she wrote 
the book in which the description is embodied, but it 
is not unlikely that, as the instinct of word-painting was 
strong within her, she wrote down some such account 
on the spot, and had it for reference afterwards. 

Louisa's wilfulness in leaping down the steps of the 
Cobb, and her subsequent accident, at which Captain 
Wentworth deceives Anne further as to the real state 


of his feelings by displaying much poignant and un- 
necessary grief, form the chief episode in the book. 

While at Lyme herself, Jane took part in the usual 
amusements; she went to a dance and was escorted 
back by ^^ James and a lanthom, though I believe the 
lanthorn was not lit as the moon was up." She walked 
on the Cobb, and bathed in the morning, also she looked 
after the housekeeping for her father and mother, who 
were with her in lodgings. 

This was in September. In the beginning of the 
following year her father died, but there is no letter yet 
published from which we can judge any of the details or 
the state of her feelings at this great loss. 

In the April after this event there are two letters, 
given by Mr. Austen-Leigh, written from Gay Street, 
Bath, in which no allusion is made to her father's death. 
She and her mother were then in lodgings. It was at 
the end of this year that they moved to Southampton. 

Jane's pen had not been altogether idle while at 
Bath, for it is supposed that she there wrote the fragment 
The Watsons which is embodied in Mr. Austen-Leigh's 

It must also have been at this time that the MS. 
of Northanger Abbey was offered to the Bath book- 
seller, a transaction which is described elsewhere. 

Before leaving Bath Jane went to stay with her 
brother, Edward Knight, at Godmersham ; this was in 
August of the same year, 1805. 

Godmersham, to which the Austen girls so often 
went on visits, is thus described by Lord Brabourne, 
who certainly had every right to know — 

"Godmersham Park is situated in one of the most 
beautiful parts of Kent, namely, in the valley of the 
Stour, which lies between Ashford and Canterbury. 
Soon after you pass the Wye station of the railway 


from the former to the latter place, you see Godmersham 
church on your left hand, and just beyond it, comes 
into view the wall which shuts off the shrubberies and 
pleasure grounds of the great house from the road ; close 
to the church nestles the home farm, and beyond it the 
rectory, with lawn sloping down to the river Stour, 
which for a distance of nearly a mile runs through the 
east end of the park. A little beyond the church you 
see the mansion, between which and the railroad lies 
the village, divided by the old high road from Ashford 
to Canterbury, nearly opposite Godmersham. The 
valley of the Stour makes a break in that ridge of chalk 
hills, the proper name of which is the Backbone of Kent. 

" So that Godmersham Park, beyond the house, is 
upon the chalk downs, and on its further side is bounded 
by King's Wood, a large tract of woodland containing 
many hundred acres and possessed by several different 

The children of Edward and Elizabeth were now 
growing up. The eldest boy, Edward, was delicate, 
and there was some talk of taking him to Worthing 
instead of sending him back to school; however, he 
apparently grew stronger, for he returned to school 
again with his brother George. The next two boys 
were Henry and William ; Jane says, she has been 
pla}ang battledore and shuttlecock with the younger 
of the two, " he and I have practised together two 
mornings, and improve a little; we have frequently 
kept it up three times, and once or twice six." 

The eldest girl, Fanny, had become almost as dear 
as a sister to her aunt, and the next, Elizabeth, are also 
mentioned in the letters ; there were besides these 
younger children, two more boys and three girls, a 
fine family I 

Before coming to Godmersham Jane had stayed 


at Eastwell, where George Hatton and his wife Lady 
Elizabeth lived; their eldest son succeeded later to 
the title of ninth Earl of Winchilsea; Jane mentions 
this lad as a ''fine boy/' but was chiefly delighted 
with his younger brother Daniel, who afterwards married 
a daughter of the Earl of Warwick. At the time she 
wrote this letter, Cassandra was at Goodnestone with 
the Bridges. The two sisters soon after changed places, 
crossing on the journey, as Jane went to Goodnestone 
and Cassandra to Godmersham ; owing to the difficulty 
of carriage transit,' journeys must frequently have been 
arranged thus to save the horses double work. 

Jane in writing from Goodnestone alludes much to 
the two Bridges girls, Harriet and her delicate sister 

There was to be a great ball at Deal for which 
Harriet Bridges received a ticket, and an invitation to 
stay at Dover, but this was suddenly put off on account 
of the death of the Duke of Gloucester, brother of George 
III. Jane opined that everybody would go into 
mourning on his account Mourning was of course 
much more generally used then than now, and everyone 
seems to have rushed into it whether they belonged to 
the Court or not on the death of any member of the 
Royal Family. 

During the four years that had passed since the 
beginning of the century, Europe had been in a 
continual turmoil, a turmoil that could never cease 
while Napoleon was at liberty. The Battle of Alexandria 
in the first year of the new century had taught him 
that the English were as formidable on land as on sea, 
and the Battle of the Baltic in the following month, 
further convinced him that there was one unconquered 
nation that dared oppose him. He recognised, however, 
that while he could not but acknowledge the superiority 


of Britain on the sea, and in places accessible t^ sea, 
he could do much as he pleased on the Continent, there- 
fore a compromise was arrived at, and on March 27, 
1802, the Treaty of Amiens was signed, and for the 
first time for many years the strain of war was relaxed 
in Great Britain. 

The arrogance of Napoleon, however, made d 
continuous peace impossible, and by the spring of the 
next year (1803) the two nations were again ready to 
spring at each other's throats. Napoleon seized and 
detained 10,000 British travellers who were in France, 
and this provoked fury in Great Britain. Great prepara- 
tions were now once more made in France for Hie long- 
cherished project of the invasion of England, where in 
a few weeks 300,000 volunteers were enrolled. The 
national excitement was tremendous, and Jane must 
have heard at least as much about the preparations for 
war, and the dangers of invasion, even in the frivolous 
society of Bath, as about dress and trivial society details. 

In May 1804, Napoleon threw aside all disguise, 
and had himself proclaimed Emperor of the French, 
and by the end of the same year Spain, having thrown 
in her lot with France, declared war also against 
England. The whole of 1805 must have been one 
of tense excitement to everyone with a brain to under- 
stand. The future of England trembled in the balance, 
yet Jane's pleasant letters from Godmersham deal in 
nothing but domestic detail and small talk, not one 
allusion is there to the throes which threatened to rend 
the national existence. 

In the autumn of 1805 both the sisters had returned 
to their mother, who in their absence had had the com- 
panionship of Martha Lloyd. Then came the removal 
to Southampton, where they went to " a commodious old- 
fashioned house in a corner of Castle Square." 


Mr. Austen-Ldg^, writing from recollection, sajrs: 
" My grandmother's house had a pleasant garden 
bounded on one side by the old city walls ; the top of 
this wall was sufficiently wide to afford a pleasant walk, 
with an extensive view, easily accessible to ladies by 
steps. ... At that time Castle Square was occupied 
by a fantastic edifice, too large for the space in which 
it stood, though too small to accord well with its 
castellated style, erected by the second Marquess of 
Lansdowne, half-brother to the well-known statesman 
who succeeded him in the title. The marchioness had 
a light phaeton drawn by six, and sometimes by eight 
little ponies, each pair decreasing in size and becoming 
lighter in colour. ... It was a delight to me to look 
down from the window and see this fairy equipage put 
together, for the premises of the castle were so contracted 
that the whole process went on in the little space that 
remained of the open square. . . . On the death of the 
Marquess in 1809 the castle was pulled down. Few 
probably remember its existence; and anyone who 
might visit the place now would wonder how it ever 
could have stood there." 

Mrs. Austen was not well off, for her husband had 
had no private means and she herself but little, yet 
her son Edward was well able to help her, for Chawton 
alone is said to have been worth ;f 5000 a year. There 
was also money in the family, for Jane some years 
later speaks of her eldest brother's income being ;Ci 100 
a year. She and her sister must have had some little 
allowance also, as it was with her own money that she 
paid for the publication of the first of her books. Simply 
as she had always lived, she does not seem to have had 
small ideas on the subject, the couples in her books 
require about two thousand a year before they can be 
considered prosperous, and incomes of from five thousand 


li': I X 


to ten ttiniwmrt pomids axe not rare;. She makes one 
of the characters in Mamsfidd Park lemark, oo hearing 
that Mr. Crawfcfd has four Aoasand pounds a jrear, 
* ' Those iriio hare not more most be satisfied with ^rtiat 
they have; Four thousand a year is a pretty estate.' " 

There was apparently some question raised by her 
relations about the income bes to we d by Jane xspoa d^ 
mother and daughters in Mamsfidd Pari^ nam^, five 
hundred pounds a year. But having regard to all die 
circumstance^ the style to iriiich thqr were accustomed, 
and Mrs. Dashwood's inalMlity to economise, this could 
periiaps hardly have been made less. 

We hear at tiie close of one year at Southampton 
that Bfrs. Austen is pleased ^ at the comfortable state of 
her own finances^ which she finds on closing her yearns 
accounts, beyond her expectation, as she b^;ins the new 
year with a balance of thirty pounds in her favour." 

And afterwards,^ My mother is afiraid I have not been 
explicit enough on the subject of her wealth ; she b^^an 
1806 with sixty-eight pounds; she begins 1807 with 
ninety-nine pounds, and this after thirty-two pounds 
purchase of stock." 

In this year, 1805, the income tax was increased 
from 6\ per cent to 10 per cent on account of the 
tremendous war expenditure. 

At this time an amicable arrangement had been 
arrived at, by which Frank Austen and his wife shared 
the house of the mother and sisters at Southampton, 
Frank himself being of course frequently away. His first 
wife, Mary Gibson, whom he had only recently married, 
lived until 1823 ; and is referred to by her sister-in-law 
as ** Mrs. F. A.," doubtless to distinguish her from the 
other Mary, James's wife. Martha Lloyd, whom Frank 
married as his second wife, long, long after, seems to have 
been such a favourite with the family that she practically 



lived with the Austens at Southampton, as her own 
mother had died some years before. 

The country round Southampton is pretty, and the 
town itself pleasant ; we have a contemporary description 
of it in 1792. "Southampton is one of the most neat 
and pleasant towns I ever saw • . . was once walled 
round, many large stones of which are now remaining. 
There were four gates, only three now. It consists 
chiefly of one long fine street of three quarters of a mile 
in length, called the High Street. . . . The Polygon (not 
far distant) could the original plan have been completed, 
'tis said, would have been one of the first places in the 
kingdom. ... At the extremity a capital building was 
erected with two detached wings, and colonnades. The 
centre was an elegant tavern, with assembly, card rooms, 
etc., and at each wing, hotels to accommodate the nobility 
and gentry. The tavern is taken down, but the wings 
converted into genteel houses." (Mrs. Lybbe Powys.) 

There does not seem to be any record of the first 
year spent here, there are no letters preserved, and we 
know that Jane wrote no more novels. Household affairs 
and altering clothes according to the mode must have 
filled up days too pleasantly monotonous to have any- 
thing worth recording. Southampton evidently did 
not inspire her, for it figures in none of her books, 
though its neighbour, Portsmouth, is described as the 
home of Fanny Price in Mansfield Park. 

Yet in October 1805, just at the time Jane was 
settling into her new home, was fought the Battle of 
Trafalgar, which smashed the allied fleets of Spain and 
France, and freed Britain from any fear of invasion. As 
it was a naval battle, we can imagine for the sake of her 
brothers she must have thrilled at the tremendous news, 
which would arrive as fast as a sailing ship could bring it 
— ^probably a day or two after the action, 



In January 1 807, Cassandra was again at Godmer- 
sham, and Jane writes her several letters full of family 
detail as usual. 

James Austen had then been staying at Southampton 
with his wife ; perhaps they had brought with them the 
little son who looked out of the window at the fairy 
carriage and the ponies ; as he was bom in November 
1798 he would be between eight and nine years old« 
His little sister Caroline certainly was there, for she Is 
mentioned by name. 

In speaking of a book Jane draws a distinction 
between her two sisters-in-law, " Mrs. F. A., to whom it 
is new, enjoys it as one could wish, the other Mary, I 
believe, has little pleasure from that or any other 

The garden at Southampton was evidently the cause 
of much enjoyment. " We hear that we are envied our 
house by many people, and that our garden is the best in 
the town." 

'' Our garden is putting in good order by a man who 
bears a remarkably good character, has a very fine com- 
plexion, and asks something less than the first The 
shrubs which border the gravel walk he says are only 
sweet briar and roses, and the latter of an indiflferent 
sort ; we mean to get a few of a better kind therefore, 
and at my own particular desire he procures us some 
syringas. I could not do without a syringa, for the sake 
of Cowper's line. We talk also of a laburnum. The 
border under the terrace wall is clearing away to receive 
currants and gooseberry bushes, and a spot is found very 
proper for raspberries." 

In this extract the odd use of the active for the 
passive tense, in fashion in the eighteenth century, jars 
on modem ears, these and similar constructions, used 
throughout the novels, have had something to do with 


the opinions of those people who have dismissed these 
brilliant works as " vulgar." 

Terrific fighting continued on the Continent, and in 
December the prestige of Napoleon was enhanced on the 
stubborn field of Austerlitz. In the beginning of 1806, 
England had the misfortune to lose by death the great 
minister Pitt, who had steered her through such perilous 
times. It is said that the news of Austerlitz was the final 
blow to a nature worn out by stress and anxiety. In 
September of the same year his talented but inferior 
rival, Fox, died also. 

. In this year was issued the famous Berlin Decree, by 
which Napoleon prohibited all commerce with Great 
Britain, and declared confiscated any British merchandise 
or shipping. But Britain had spirit enough to retort in 
the following year with a decree declaring a blockade of 
France, and that any of her merchant vessels were fair 
prizes unless they had previously touched at a British 

The war continued without intermission throughout 
1807. Austria, exhausted, had sullenly withdrawn, 
Prussia had plucked up spirit to join with Russia in 
opposing the conqueror of Europe, but in June, after the 
hard fought battle of Frieland, France concluded with 
Russia the secret Peace of Tilsit, based upon mutual 
hatred of England. England, however, soon found out 
the menace directed against her, and as the French 
troops marched to Denmark, evidently with the intention 
of summoning that country to use her fleet in accordance 
with their orders, England by a prompt and brilliant 
countermove appeared before Copenhagen first, and by 
bombarding the town compelled submission, and carried 
away the whole fleet for safety's sake. Those were 
glorious days for the navy, when measures were 
prompt and decisive, when no hesitation and shilly- 


shallying and fear of ** hurting the feelings " of an un- 
scrupulous enemy prevented Britain from taking care of 

Britain was now at war with Russia and Denmark as 
well as France, but the unprecedented duplicity of NapoIe<Mi 
in Spain in 1807 gave Britain an unexpected field on 
which to do battle, and allies by no means to be despised. 
Spain was France's ally, yet France after marching 
through the country to crush Portugal, quietly annexed 
the country of their ally in returning, and by a ruse made 
the whole Royal Family prisoners in France, while 
Napoleon's brother Joseph, King of Naples, was sub- 
sequently proclaimed King. The Spaniards were aroused, 
and though the best of their troops had been previously 
drawn off into Germany by the tyrsLnt, they managed to 
give a good account of themselves, even against the 
invincible French. Joseph Buonaparte had been pro- 
claimed King of Spain in June 1808. In that month 
Jane was at Godmersham again, and though she did not 
know it, this was the last visit she would pay before the 
death of Mrs. Edward Knight, which occurred in the 
following October, at the birth of her eleventh chfld ; 
Jane seems to have noticed her sister-in-law was not in 
good health, she says, *' I cannot praise Elizabeth's looks, 
but they are probably affected by a cold" 

Mr. and Mrs. James Austen accompanied her on 

. this visit, and her account of the arrival gives such a 

homely picture that, trivial as it is, it is worth quoting. 
I ** Our two brothers were walking before the house as we 

f approached as natural as life. Fanny and Lizzy met us 

in the hall with a great deal of pleasant joy. • • . Fanny 
came to me as soon as she had seen her aunt James to 
her room, and stayed while I dressed . • • she is grown 
both in ^height and size since last year, but not im- 
moderately, looks very well, and seems as to conduct 






and manner just what she was and what one could wish 
her to continue." 

''Yesterday passed quite k la Godmersham; the 
gentlemen rode about Edward's farm, and returned in 
time to saunter along Bentigh with us ; and after dinner 
we visited the Temple Plantations. . • . James and 
Mary are much struck with the beauty of the place." 

Lord Braboume gives a note on the Temple Planta- 
tion, it was ^ once a ploughed field, but when my grand- 
father first came to Godmersham, he planted it with 
underwood, and made gravel walks through it, planted 
an avenue of trees on each side of the principal walk, 
and added it to the shrubberies. The family always 
walked through it on their way to church, leaving the 
shrubberies by a little door in the wall at the end of the 
private grounds." 

The casual sentence '' Mary finds the children less 
troublesome than she expected," adds one more stroke 
to the character of that sister-in-law which Jane makes 
us know so well. 

Mrs. Knight senior was still living, and was generous 
toward the other members of her adopted son's family 
besides himself. 

"This morning brought me a letter from Mrs. 
Knight, containing the usual fee, and all the usUal 
kindness. . , . She asks me to spend a day or two with 
her this week ,. . . her very agreeable present will make 
my circumstances quite easy ; I shall reserve half for my 

It will be remembered that Mrs. Edward Knight 
had been a Miss Bridges, and the good-natured Harriet, 
her sister, was now staying at Godmersham with her 
own husband, Mr. Moore, whom Jane did not think 
good enough for her, though she admits later, '* he is a 
sensible man, and tells a story well." She refers to her 


sister-in-law's opinion of her, '*Mary was very disap- 
pointed in her beauty, and thought him very disag^ree- 
able; James admires her and finds him pleasant and 

It was at the conclusion of this visit that Jane wrote 
to her sister of the pressing necessity of coming home 
again to meet the visitor with whom her ^honour as 
well as affection " were engaged. 

She was now thirty-two, no longer a young girl, and 
not at all likely to mistake the nature of attentions of 
which she had had her full share. However it was, 
whether the visitor did not come, or coming proved 
himself unequal to her ideal, we do not know, and in 
any case the romance so mysteriously suggested by 
these few words, must ever remain in the shadow. 

Jane speaks with pleasure of her sister-in-law, 
Elizabeth, " having a very sweet scheme of accompanying 
Edward into Kent next Christmas." Alas, before that 
Christmas came, the loving mother, who seems to have 
been in every way a perfect wife and sister, was no more. 

When this sad event occurred in October the sisters 
had again changed places, Cassandra being at Godmer- 
sham and Jane at Southampton. The first of Jane's 
letters of this period is congratulatory on the birth of 
Edward's eleventh child, and sixth son, but very shortly 
^ afterwards she writes in real sorrow at the dreadful news 

which has reached her of the death of her ^esiV sister-in- 
law. The news came by way of Mrs. James Austen 
and her sister Martha, who was at Southampton. 

" We have felt — we do feel — for you all as you do 
L not need to be told ; for you, for Fanny, for Henry, for 

^\ Lady Bridges, and for dearest Edward, whose loss and 

whose sufferings seem to make those of every other 
person nothing. God be praised that you can say what 
you do of him, that he has a religious mind tp bear him 



up and a disposition that will gradually lead him to 
comfort. My dear, dear Fanny, I am so thankful that 
she has you with her ! You will be everything to her ; 
you will give her all the consolation that human aid can 
give. May the Almighty sustain you all, and keep you, 
my dearest Cassandra, well." 

" With what true sympathy our feelings are shared 
by Martha you need not be told ; she is the friend and 
sister under every circumstance." 

Poor Fanny was then in her sixteenth year, the 
time when a girl perhaps feels the loss of a sensible, 
affectionate mother more than any other. She acquitted 
herself splendidly in the difficult task that fell on her as 
the eldest of so many brothers and sisters. Her next 
sister Lizzy was at this time only eight years old, and 
though she seems to have felt the loss keenly, it could 
not be the same to her as it was to Fanny. 

Mourning at that time entailed heavy crape, and 
Jane at once fitted herself out with all that was proper. 
The two eldest boys, Edward and George, were by this 
time at Winchester College, but when their mother died 
they went first to their aunt and uncle at Steventon, and 
on October 24 came on to Southampton. Jane's next 
letter is full of them. " They behave extremely well in 
every respect, showing quite as much feeling as one 
wishes to see, and on every occasion speaking of their 
father with the liveliest affection. His letter was read 
over by each of them yesterday and with many tears }. 
George sobbed aloud, Edward's tears do not flow so 
easily, but as far as I can judge, they are both very 
properly impressed by what has happened. ... George 
is almost a new acquaintance to me, and I find him, in 
a different way, as engaging as Edward. We do not 
want amusement; bilbocatch, at which George is inde- 
fatigable, spillikens, paper ships, riddles, conundrums. 




and cardSy with watching the ebb and flow of the river, 
and now and then a stroll out keep us well employed." 

Rhymed charades were a very common form of 
amusement at that date, and all the Austen fiaunily 
excelled in them. 

It will be remembered that Mr. Elton's charade, of 
which the meaning was ** Courtship," further misled the 
match-making Emma into thinking he was in love with 
Harriet the dowerless, while she herself, the heiress, was 
the real object of his attentions. 

Several charades of this type made up by the 
Austens are still extant; the two following are Jane's 

''Divided Fm a gentleman 

In public deeds and powers; 
United, I'm a monster, who 
That gentleman deToors." 

To which the answer is A-gient. 

"You may lie on my first by the side of a stream, 
And my second compose to the nymph yon adore; 
But if, when youVe none of my whole, her esteem 
And affection diminish — think of her no more." 

Which is easily read as Bank-note. 

Both of these specimens show the gaiety of spirit 
so noticeable in the smallest extracts from her letters. 

Her observations on her nephews put the two bo}rs 
before us to the life, "While I write now Greorge is 
most industriously making and manning paper ships, 
at which he afterwards shoots horse chestnuts, brought 
from Steventon on purpose ; and Edward equally intent 
over the Lake of Killarney and twisting himself about 
in one of our great chairs." 

Her wonderful powers as an entertainer are clearly 
shown in this sad time, when she strove to keep her 


nephews occupied to the exclusion of sad thoughts; 
she took them for excursions on the Itchen, when they 
rowed her in a boat, and she was never weary of 
entering into their sports and feelings ; her real 
unselfishness came out very strongly on this occasion. 
Sir Arthur Wellesley had sailed for Spain in the 
July of this year, and now England was in the throes of 
the Peninsular War; some of the very few allusions 
that Jane ever makes to contemporary events are to 
be found in reference to the Peninsular War, and these 
are more personal than general. On hearing of Sir 
John Moore's death in January 1809, she writes: 
" I am sorry to find that Sir J. Moore has a mother 
living, but though a very heroic son, he might not be 
a very necessary one to her happiness. ... I wish Sir 
John had united something of the Christian with the 
hero in his death. Thank heaven we have had no one 
to care for particularly among the troops, no one in fact 
nearer to us than Sir John himself." 


IN 1809 another move was contemplated. Edward 
Knight had found it in his power to oflfer his 
mother and sisters a home rent free ; and he gave them 
the choice of a house in Kent, probably not far from 
Godmersham, or a cottage at Chawton close to his 
Manor House there. 

The latter offer was accepted^ and preparations were 
made to alter the cottage, which ^ had been a steward's 
residence, into a comfortable dwelling. The cottage is 
still standing, close by the main road, and may be seen 
by anyone in passing; it is of considerable size, and 
I there are six bedrooms besides garrets. It stands 
close to the junction of two roads, one of which 
passes through Winchester to Southampton, and the 
other through Fareham to Gosport. Chawton lies 
about as far north-west of Winchester as Steventon 
does north. 

The considerable country town of Alton, which 
would be convenient for shopping, is only about a 
mile from the village. The cottage, dreary and weather- 
beaten in appearance, is of a solid square shape, and 
abuts on the high-road with only a paling in front 
It is not an attractive looking dwelling, but probably at 
the time was fresher and brighter in appearance than it 
is now. It had also the advantage of a good garden. 



It is now partially used for a club or reading-room 
and partially by cottagers. At the junction of the 
two roads aforesaid is a muddy pond, that which was 
playfully referred to by Jane in writing to her nephew, 
who had not been well, when she says ^you may be 
ordered to a house by the sea or by a very considerable 

A short distance along the Gosport Road is the 
entrance gate to the Manor House, and about fifty yards 
up the drive is the pretty little church, considerably 
altered since Jane's time, with pinnacled and ivy- 
mantled tower. Just above it is the fine old Elizabethan 

In 1525 one William Knight had a lease of the 
place; the house itself was probably built by his son 
John, who bought the estate, and it has remained ever 
since in the hands of the Knight family, if we may 
count adoption as ranking in family inheritance. 

The move to Chawton was evidently some time in 
contemplation before actually taking place, for writing 
in December 1808, Jane says that they want to be 
settled at Chawton " in time for Henry to come to us 
for some shooting in October at least, or a little earlier, 
and Edward may visit us after taking his boys back 
to Winchester. Suppose we name the fourth of 

Of the actual settling in at Chawton we have no 
details, for the next batch of letters begins in April 181 1, 
and Jane, with her mother and sister, had been there 
about a year and a half. 

Chawton was her home for the rest of her short life, 
though she actually died at Winchester. At Chawton 
her three last novels were written, as will be recounted 
in detail. It is curious that the periods of her literary 
activity seem to have been synchronous with her 





fesidenoe in the countiy ; at Steventon and at Chawton 
respectively she produced three novels; at Bath only 
a fragment, and at Southampton nothing at all. 

The life at Chawton during this and the next few 
years must have been part of the happiest time she 
ever experienced. Her first book. Sense and Sensibility^ 
was published in 1811; she had tasted the joys of 
earning money, and, what was much greater, die joy 
of seeing her own ideas and characters in tangible 
shape ; she lived in a comfortable, pretty home, with the 
comings and goings of her relatives at the Manor House 
to add variety, and she had probably lost the restless- 
ness of girlhood. If the conjecture of which we have 
spoken in a previous chapter was true, she had now 
had time to get over a sorrow which must have taken 
its place with those sweet unrealised dreams in which 
the pain is much softened by retrospect. That she 
fully appreciated her country surroundings is shown by 
frequent notes on the garden at Chawton. '' Our young 
piony at the foot of the firtree has just blown and 
looks very handsome, and the whole of the shrubbery 
border will soon be very gay with pinks and sweet 
Williams, in addition to the columbines already in 
bloom. The Syringas too are coming out We 
are likely to have a great crop of Orleans plums, but 
not many greengages." ''You cannot imagine what a 
nice walk we have round the orchard. The row of 
beech look very pretty and so does the young quick- 
set hedge in the garden. I hear to-day that an 
apricot has been detected on one of the trees." 
''Yesterday I had the agreeable surprise of finding 
several scarlet strawberries quite ripe. There are more 
strawberries and fewer currants than I thought at first 
We must buy currants for our wine." 

Thus the seasons are marked. The Austens ate 


their own tender young peas from the garden, and '* my 
mother's " chickens supplied the table. 

Mrs. Austen at this time seems to have taken a 
new lease of life, she busied herself with garden and 
poultry, and did not shirk even the harder details 
necessitated by these occupations. 

Her granddaughter Anna, James's eldest daughter, 
now grown up, was a constant visitor at the cottage, 
and speaks of Mrs. Austen's wearing a ''round green 
frock like a day labourer" and ''digging her own 
potatoes." Anna enjoyed the little gaieties that fell 
to her lot as freshly as her aunt had done at her 
age, indeed with even more simplicity, for Jane remarks 
of one ball to which she went "it would not have 
satisfied me at her. age." And again, " Anna had a 
delightful evening at the Miss Middletons, syllabub, 
tea, coffee, singing, dancing, a hot supper, eleven 
o'clock, everything that can be imagined agreeable," 
as if the freshness of Anna's youth were very fresh 

The beautiful park stretching around Chawton House, 
with its fine beech trees, was of course quite open to the 
inhabitants of the cottage, who must have derived many 
advantages from their near relationship to the owner. 

Altogether, with the freedom from care for the future, 
the companionship of her sister, the increased health and 
energy of her mother, the solace of her writing, the 
comings and goings of the Chawton party, and the occa- 
sional visits to London and elsewhere, to give her fresh 
ideas, Jane's life must have been as pleasant as external 
circumstances could make it We can picture her 
sauntering out in the early summer sunshine, her head 
demurely encased in the inevitable cap, while the long 
stray curl tickles her cheek as she stoops to see the 
buds bursting into bloom or triumphantly gathers the 



earliest rose. We can picture her standing about watch- 
ing Mrs. Austen feeding the chickens, and giving her 
opinion as to their management. Then going in to the 
little parlour, or living-room, and sitting down to the 
piano while Cassandra manipulated an old-fashioned 
tambour frame. In this little parlour, in spite of frequent 
interruptions, Jane did all her writing sitting at the big 
heavy mahogany desk of the old style, like a wooden 
box, which opened at a slant so as to form a support 
for the paper ; at this time she was revising Sense and 
Sensibility for the press, or adding something to the 
growing pile of MS. called Mansfield Park. We cannot 
imagine that she wrote much at a time, for her work is 
minute, small, and well digested ; probably after a scene 
or conversation between two of the characters, she would 
be interrupted by another member of the household, and 
stroll up to the Manor House to give orders for the 
reception of some of the Knight family, or go into Alton 
to buy some necessary household article. Occasionally 
a post-chaise would rattle past, or the daUy coach and 
waggons would form a diversion. 

For six months, during the yezx 18 13, the whole 
of the Godmersham party lived at Chawton, while their 
other house was being repaired and painted, and this 
intercourse added greatly to Jane's happiness. She 
cemented that affectionate friendship with her eldest 
niece Fanny, and Lord Braboume gives little extracts 
from his mother's diary to show how close the companion- 
ship was between the two, *^ Aunt Jane and I had a veiy 
interesting conversation," '' Aunt Jane and I had a very 
delicious morning together," '' Aunt Jane and I walked 
into Alton together," and so on. 

But during these years there was no abatement of 
the fierce turmoil in Europe, the Peninsular War, demand- 
ing ever fresh levies of men and fresh subsidies of money, 


was a continual drain on England's resources, and the 
beginning of 1 8 1 2 found the French practically masters 
of Spain ; but in that year the tide turned, and after con- 
tinual and bloody battles and sieges in which the loss 
of life was enormous, Wellington drove the French back 
across the Pyrenees, and in the following year planted 
his victorious standard actually on French soil. 

But the effects of the continuous wars were being 
felt in England, in 181 1 broke out the Luddite riots, 
nominally against the introduction of machinery, but 
in reality because of the high price of bread and the 
scarcity of employment and money. Austria had signed 
the disastrous Peace of Vienna with France in 1 809, and 
during this and the following years the Continent with 
small exception was ground beneath the heel of Napoleon, 
who in 1 8 1 2 commenced the invasion of Russia which 
was to cost him so dearly. In 1 8 1 1 there is rather a 
characteristic exclamation in one of Jane's letters apropos 
of the war : '' How horrible it is to have so many people 
killed 1 And what a blessing that one cares for none of 
them 1 " 

Napoleon's tyranny and utter regardlessness of the 
feelings of national pride in the countries he had con- 
quered now began to bring forth for him a bitter harvest. 
The Sixth Coalition of nations was formed against him, 
including Russia, Prussia, Austria, Great Britain and 
Sweden. After terrific fighting his armies were forced 
back over the Rhine, and the mighty Empire he had 
formed of powerless and degraded " Republics " melted 
away like snow in an August sun. In March 1 8 14, Paris, 
itself was forced to surrender to the triumphant armies 
of the Allies. In April, Napoleon signed his abdication 
and retired to Elba. Ever since he first appeared as an 
active agent on the battlefields of Europe he had kept 
the Continent in a perpetual ferment ; cruelty, bloodshed 


and horror had followed in his train. His mighty 
personality had seemed scarcely human, and his very 
name struck terror into all hearts, and became a bugbear 
with which to frighten children. 

We have two letters of Jane's in the early part of 
March, written from London where she was staying with 
her brother Henry. There is not another until June, 
and that is dated from Chawton. Of course it is difficult 
to imagine that any intermediate letters she wrote can 
have been entirely free from allusion to the great news 
at which the whole Continent burst into paeans of 
thankfulness, and which must have made England feel 
as if she had awakened from a nightmare, but as we 
have no proof either vray it must be left open to doubt 

In the June letter she says to Cassandra, who was in 
London, ** Take care of yourself and do not be trampled 
to death in running after the Emperor. The report in 
Alton yesterday was that they would certainly travel 
this road either to or from Portsmouth." This referred 
to the visit of the Allied monarchs to England after their 
triumph in Paris, and the " Emperor " was the Emperor 
Alexander of Russia, who but a few years ago had 
formed a secret treaty with Napoleon to the detriment of 
England I 

Here we must leave political matters, to take a short 
review of the work which Jane had produced in the years 
since she had come to Chawton. 

In 1 8 1 1 the first of her books. Sense and Sensibility^ 
was published at her own expense, and produced in three 
neat little volumes in clear type by T. Egerton, White- 
hall. Her identity was not disclosed by the title-page, 
which simply bore the words " By a Lady." She paid 
a visit to her brother Henry in London in order to 
arrange the details, with which Henry helped her very 
much. When in London with this object she writes, 


'' No, indeed, I am never too busy to think of Semse and 
Sensibility. I can no more forget it than a mother can 
forget her sucking child, and I am much obliged to you 
for your enquiries. I have had two sheets to OHrect 
but the last only brings us to Willoughb/s first appear- 
ance. Mrs. EL r^^rets in the most flattering manner 
that she must wait till May, but I have scarcely a hope 
of its being out in June. Henry does not neglect it ; he 
has hurried the printer, and says he wfll see him again 

Sense and Sensibility did not come out untfl she had 
returned to the country, and when she received £\^o 
for it later on, she thought it ** a prodigious recompense 
for that which had cost her nothing." And certainly, 
considering her anonymity and the small chances the 
book had, she had good reason to be satisfied. The 
gratifying reception of Sense and Sensibility seems to 
have awakened the powers of writing which had so long 
Iain dormant from want of encouragement. In 18 12 
she began Mansfield Park^ perhaps in some ways the 
least interesting, though by no means the least well con- 
structed, of her novels. Edmund and Fanny are both 
a little too mild for the taste of most people, and are far 
from taking their real place as hero and heroine. How- 
ever, Edmund's blind partiality for Miss Crawford is very 
natural, and, as Henry Austen himself said, it is certainly 
impossible to tell until quite the end how the story is 
going to be finished. The minor characters are through- 
out excellent ; it is one of Jane's shining qualities that 
no character, however small the part it has to play, remains 
unknown, she seems able to describe in a touch or two 
some human quality or defect which at once brings us 
into intimate relations with either man or woman. Mr. 
Rushworth's self-importance, '' I am to be Count Cassel 
and to come in first in a blue dress, and a pink satin 


cloak, and afterwards have another fine fancy suit by way 
of a shooting dress. I do not know how I shall like it 
... I shall hardly know myself in a blue dress and pink 
satin cloak," is excellent 

Lady Bertram's character might be gathered from 
one sentence in the letter which she sends to Fanny, 
telling of her elder son's dangerous illness: ''Edmund 
kindly proposes attending his brother immediately, but I 
am happy to add Sir Thomas will not leave me on 
this distressing occasion as it would be too trying 
for me." 

Mrs. Norris, with her sycophantic speeches towards 
her well-to-do nieces, her own opinion of her virtues, 
her admonitions to Fanny, her habit of taking credit for 
the generous acts performed by other people, her spung- 
ing, and trick of getting everything at the expense of 
others, is the most striking figure in the book. When 
poor Fanny, having been neglected and left alone all day, 
the odd one of the party, is returning with the rest 
rather drearily from Rushworth Park, Mrs. Norris 
remarks — 

" Well, Fanny, this has been a fine day for you, upon 
my word! Nothing but pleasure from beginning to 
end ! I am sure you ought to be very much obliged to 
your Aunt Bertram and me for contriving to let you go. 
A pretty good day's amusement you have had." This, 
when she has done her best to stop Fanny's going at 
all, depicts her character in unmistakable colours. On 
another occasion she tells the meek Fanny, "The 
nonsense and folly of people's stepping out of their rank 
and trying to appear above themselves makes me think 
it right to give you a hint, Fanny, now that you are 
going into company without any of us, and I do beseech 
and entreat you not to be putting yourself forward, and 
talking and giving your opinion as if you were one of 


your cousins, as if you were dear Mrs. Rushworth or 
Julia. That will never do, believe me. Remember 
wherever you are you must be the lowest and last" In 
the same book Sir Thomas Bertram's conference with his 
niece on the proposals he has received for her from Mr. 
Crawford is a wonderful commentary on the opinions of 
the time, but is too long to quote in entirety. That 
Fanny should refuse a handsome eligible young man, 
merely because she could neither respect nor love him, 
was quite incredible, and not only foolish but wicked. 
Sir Thomas speaks sternly of his disappointment in her 
character, " I had thought you peculiarly free from 
wilfulness of temper, self-conceit and every tendency to 
that independence of spirit which prevails so much in 
modern days, even in young women, and which, in young 
women, is offensive and disgusting beyond all common 

We know what Jane herself thought of coercion of 
this kind, and how fully her sentiments were on the side 
of liberty of choice. 

Among the other excellencies of Mansfield Park we 
niay note the sketch of Fanny's home at Portsmouth, 
with her loud-voiced father and noisy brothers so 
distressing to her excessive sensitiveness. With all 
these merits, and to add to them that of excellent 
construction, Mansfield Park may rank high in spite of 
its somewhat colourless hero and heroine. We cannot, 
however, leave Edmund and Fanny in the same certainty 
of a happy future as we may leave others of the heroes 
and heroines in the novels ; they may rub along well 
enough, but we feel they cannot but be intolerably dull, 
though perhaps so long as people are not aware of their 
own dulness they may enjoy Happiness of a negative 

Henry Austen read Mansfield Park in MS. while 


travelling with his sister, and she notes with pleasure, 
** Henrjr's approbation is hitherto even equal to my wishes. 
He says it is different from the other two» but he does 
not think it at all inferior. He has only married Mrs. 
Rushworth. I am afraid he has gone through the most 
entertaining part He took to Lady Bertram and Mrs. 
Norris most kindly, and gives great praise to the 
drawing of all the characters. He understands them all, 
likes Fanny, and, I think, foresees how it will all be." 
And she adds later, ** Henry is going on with Mansfield 
Park. He admires H. Crawford ; I mean properly, as a 
clever pleasant man, I tell you all the good I can, and 
I know how much you will enjoy it." '' Henry has this 
moment said he likes my M. P. better and better; he is 
in the third volume ; I believe now he has changed his 
mind as to foreseeing the end ; he said yesterday at 
least he defied anybody to say whether H. C. would 
be reformed or forget Fanny in a fortnight" 

The first two extracts are from a letter given in Mr. 
Austen-Leigh's Memoir. 

In 1 8 1 3 came the publication of Pride and Prejudice^ 
apparently at Mr. Egerton's risk. This was evidently 
Jane's own favourite among the novels, and her references 
to it are made with genuine delight. 

*^Lady Robert is delighted with P. and P., and 
really was so, I understand, before she knew who wrote 
it, for, of course she knows now." •' I long to have you 
hear Mr. H's opinion of P. and P. His admiring my 
Elizabeth so much is particularly welcome to me." 
*' Poor Dr. Isham is obliged to admire P. and P. and to 
send me word that he is sure he shall not like Madam 
D'Arblay's new novel half so well. Mrs. C. invented it 
all of course." The book had come out quite in the 
b^inning of the year, for in a letter dated Jan. 29, 
1813, given by Mr. Austen-Leigh, she writes — 


" I hope you received my little parcel by J, Bond on 
Wednesday evening, my dear Cassandra, and that you 
will be ready to hear from me again on Sunday, for I 
feel that I must write to you to-day. I want to tell you 
that I have got my own darling child from London. 
On Wednesday I received one copy sent down by 
Falkner with three lines from Henry to say that he had 
given another to Charles and sent a third by the coach 
to Godmersham. • . . The advertisement is in our paper 
to-day for the first time: 18s. He shall ask £1, is. 
for my two next and £1, 8s. for my stupidest of all." 

Mansfield Park was finished in the same year, and 
came out under the auspices of Mr. Egerton in 18 14, 
though the second edition was transferred to Mr. Murray. 
Before the publication of Emma, Jane had begun to be 
known in spite of the anonymity of her title-pages. 
The only bit of public recognition she ever personally 
received was accorded to her while she was in London, 
and must be told in the account of her ' London 


DURING the years when she lived at Chawton, Jane 
stayed pretty frequently in London, generally 
with her brother Henry. She was with him in 1811, 
when he was in Sloane Street, going daily to the bank 
in Henrietta Street, Covent Garden, in whidi he was a 

Mr. Austen-Leigh says of Henry Austen, " He was 
a very entertaining companion, but had perhaps less 
steadiness of purpose, certainly less success in life, than 
his brothers." 

Jane was evidently very fond of Henry, and fully 
appreciated his ready sympathy and interest in her 
affairs. In speaking of her young nephew George 
Knight, she says : *' George's enquiries were endless, 
and his eagerness in everything reminds me often of his 
uncle Henry." 

Henry was at this time married to his cousin Eliza, 
widow of the Count de Feuillade, who has already 
been mentioned, and Eliza was evidently vivacious and 
fond of society, so her sister-in-law had by no means a 
dull time when staying with her. But how different 
were Jane's visits to London, unknown, and certainly 
without any idea of the fame that was to attend her 
later, to those of her forerunners and contemporaries 
who had been "discovered," and who on the very 



slightest groonds were f£ted and adored The company 
of Mrs. Austen's friends, a little shopping, an occasional 
visit to the play, these were the details which filled up 
the daily routine of Jane's visit She made the acquaint- 
ance of many of her sister-in-law's French friends, and 
enjo}^ a large musical party given by her, where, 
*' including everybody we were sixty-six," and where 
''the music was extremely good harp, pianoforte, and 
singing," and the ** house was not clear till twelve." 

It is not difficult to reconstruct the London that 
she knew. Rocque's splendid map of the middle of the 
eighteenth century gives us a basis to go upon, though 
houses had been rapidly built since it was made. Kvon 
at Rocque's date, London reached to Hyde Park (lornrr, 
and the district we call Mayfair was one of tho NmnrtrMt 
parts of the town. St. George's Hoiipltal MtoocI nt thn 
comer as at present, and a line of houncw bdrctcirnd (hn 
road running past it, but beyond thifi, ovnr llnl^rMvUi 
were open fields called the Five FichU (:rimmu\ \iy (|im 
rambling Westbourne stream, and travnrwoil by \lti\U^^ 

Sloane Street itself had been plnnnod lit i;Nt^ MtttI 
was called after the famous Sir lUnN Sl(mtmi w\\m^ 
collection formed the nucleus of the ItHtlnh Mtittf^uitii 
It was therefore comparatively now In Jttiin'« IIiiim, 'lH 
the south, near the river, thoro wora n ^(nn\ iimtiy 
houses at Chelsea, that is to say Nouth (if Klnt('N UuMit) 
and Chelsea Hospital of courHO Ntood mm nt ptf'Aftid 
Next to it, where is now the strip of KArdntt (tpi^u Ui 
the public, and lined by Bridge Road, Ntood thci wftAir< 
site and ruins of the famous Ranelagh Uotututni which 
had been in its time the scene of so much galoty ; only 
a few years previous to Jane's visit to Sloane Street It 
had been demolished and the fittings sold. 

Vauxhall, however, the great rival of Ranelagh, was 
still popular, and continued, with gradually waning 


patronage, until after the middle of the nineteenth century. 
It does not appear that Jane ever went there, however. 

As for Knightsbridge, if we imagine all the great 
modern buildings such as Sloane Court and the Barracks 
done away with, and picture a long unpaved road 
stretching away into fields and open country westward, 
with a few small houses of the brick box type on both 
sides, we get some idea of the district Sloane Street 
was then in fact quite the end of London; not long 
before it had been dangerous to travel to the outlying 
village of Chelsea without protection at night, and it 
was not until another fourteen years had passed that the 
Five Fields were laid out for building. 

In the London of that date, many things we now 
take as commonplace necessaries were altogether want- 
ing, and if we could be carried back in time it would be 
the negative side that would strike us most ; for instance, 
there was very little pavement, and what there was was 
composed of great rounded stones like the worst sort of 
cobble paving in a provincial town. Most of the roads 
were made of gravel and dirt; Jane mentions a fresh 
load of gravel having been thrown down near Hyde 
Park Comer, which made the work so stiff that ''the 
horses refused the collar and jibbed." Grosley tells us 
many little details which are just what we want to 
know, of the kind which in all ages are taken for 
granted by those who live amid them, so that they need 
a stranger to record them. 

He gives us first an account of his arrival in London 
by coach over Westminster Bridge. 

^* I arrived in London towards the close of the day. 
Though the sun was still above the horizon, the lamps 
were already lighted upon Westminster Bridge, and 
upon the roads and streets that lead to it These 
streets are broad, regular, and lined with high houses 


forming the most beautiful quarter of London. The 
river covered with boats of different sizes, the bridge 
and the streets [were] filled with coaches, their broad 
footpaths crowded with people." 

The group of buildings on the west of the bridge 
belonged of course to the old Palace, where, in the 
chapel of St. Stephen, sat the House of Commons. 
The Abbey would be much as it is now, also St. 
Margaret's Church. The splendid Holbein gate stand- 
ing across Whitehall had been removed about fifteen 
years before Grosley's visit. He tells us that : " Means, 
however, have been found to pave with free-stone the 
great street called Parliament Street. The fine street 
called Pall Mall is already paved in part with this stone ; 
and they have also begun to new pave the Strand. 
The two first of these streets were dry in May, all the 
rest of the town being still covered with heaps of dirt." 

The dirt is what strikes him most everywhere: 
** In the most beautiful part of the Strand and near 
St Clement's Church, I have seen the middle of the 
street constantly foul with a dirty puddle to a height of 
three or four inches; a puddle where splashings cover 
those that walk on foot, fill coaches when their windows 
happen not to be up, and bedaub all the lower parts of 
such houses as are exposed to it The English are 
not afraid of this dirt, being defended from it by their 
wigs of a brownish curling hair, their black stockings, 
and their blue surtouts, which are made in the form of a 

On each side of the road ran a kind of deep and 
dirty ditch called the kennel, into which refuse and 
rubbish was thrown, and from which evil and unwhole- 
some odours came. When vehicles in passing splashed 
into this, a shower of filth would bespatter the passers- 
by behind the posts, therefore it was of no small con- 


sequence to keep to the wall, and the giving up of this 
was by no means a mere matter of form, and frequently 
produced quarrels between hot-tempered men. Toward 
the end of the century, however, swords were not usually 
worn, except by physicians, therefore these quarrels 
were not always productive of so much harm as they 
might have been. 

The streets were full of enormous coaches, sometimes 
gilt, hung on high springs, drawn by four, and even six 
horses ; footmen, to the number of four or six, ran beside 
them, and the wheels splashed heavily in the dirt described, 
sending up the mud in black spurts. It was early in the 
nineteenth century that a new kind of paving was tried, 
blocks of cast-iron covered with gravel, but this was not 
a success. Besides the large coaches there were hackney 
coaches, which would seem to us almost equally clumsy 
and unwieldy. Omnibuses were not seen in the metro- 
polis until 1823, but there was something of the kind 
running from outl}dng places to London, for Samuel 
R(^rs tells a story as follows : — 

"Visiting Lady one day, I made inquiries 

about her sister. ' She is now staying with me,' answered 

Lady , * but she is unwell in consequence of a fright 

which she got on her way from Richmond to London.' 

On enquiry it turned out that while Miss was 

coming to town, the footman observing an omnibus 
approach, and thinking she might like to see it, suddenly 
called in at the carriage window, ' Ma'am, the omnibus ! ' 
She, being unacquainted with the term, and not sure but 
an omnibus might be a v/ild beast escaped from the 
Zoological Gardens, was thrown into a dreadful state of 
agitation by the announcement, and this caused her 

Hackney coaches were in severe competition with 
sedan chairs, for to call a chair was as frequent a custom 


as to send for a hackney coach. The chairmen were 
notorious for their incivility, just as the watermen had 
previously been, and as their successors, the cabmen, 
became later, though now the reproach is removed from 

The rudeness of chairmen is exemplified in Tom 
JoneSy for when Tom found himself after the masqued ball 
unable to produce a shilling for a chair, he "walked 
baldly on after the chair in which his lady rode, pursued 
by a grand huzza from all the chairmen present, who 
wisely take the best care they can to discountenance all 
walking afoot by their betters. Luckily, however, the 
gentry who attend at the Opera House were too busy to 
quit their stations, and as the lateness of the hour pre- 
vented him from meeting many of their brethren in the 
street, he proceeded without molestation in a dress, which 
at another season would have certainly raised a mob at 
his heels." 

These chairs were kept privately by great people, and \ 
often were very richly decorated with brocade and plush ; 
it was not an unusual thing for the footmen or chairmen 
of the owner to be decoyed into a tavern while the chair 
was stolen for the sake of its valuable furniture. The \ 
chairs opened with a lid at the top to enable the occupant 
to stand up on entrance, and then were shut down ; in 
the caricatures of the day, these lids are represented as 
open to admit of the lady's enormous feather being left 
on her head. 

It was of course quite impossible for a lady to go 
about alone in the streets of London at this date, and 
even dangerous sometimes for men. The porters, carriers, 
chairmen, drunken sailors, etc., ready to make a row, aie 
frequently mentioned by Giosky, and scuffles were of 
constant occurrence. George Selwyn in 1782 was so 
** mobbed, daubed, and beset by a crew of wretdied 




little chimney-sweeps " that he had to give them money 
to go away. 

These pests were under no sort of control, as there 
were no regular police in the streets. 

" London has neither troops, patrol, or any sort of 
regular watch ; and it is guarded during the night only 
by old men chosen from the dregs of the people ; who 
have no other arms but a lanthom and a pole; who 
patrole the streets, crying the hour every time the clock 
strikes; who proclaim good and bad weather in the 
morning; who come to awake those who have any 
journey to perform; and whom it is customary with 
young rakes to beat and use ill, when they come reeling 
from the taverns where they have spent the night" 

It is bewildering to find that this sort of thing con- 
tinued until George the Fourth's reign, when Sir Robert 
Feel's Metropolitan Folice Act was passed. And in 
that lawless rowdy age, one wonders how the town ever 
got on without police; probably there were numerous 
deaths from violence. It carries us back almost to the 
Middle Ages to realise that so late as 1783 the last 
execution took place at Tyburn ; Samuel Rogers recol- 
lected as a boy seeing a whole cartful of young girls in 
dresses of various colours on their way to execution for 
having been concerned in the burning of a house in the 
Gordon Riots. Though some of these details belong to 
an age prior to that when Jane stayed in London, yet 
they lingered on until the nineteenth century with little 

In 1 8 1 1 gas was just beginning to be used in light- 
ing the streets ! The town was in a strange transitional 
state. Fall Mall was first lighted with a row of gas- 
lamps in 1 807, and on the King's birthday, June 4, the 
wall between Fall Mall and St James's Fark was 




brilliantly illuminated in the same way, but gas generally 
was not placed in the thoroughfares until 1812 or 1813, 
and meantime oil-lamps requiring much care and atten- 
tion were the only resource. 

It was a noisy, rattling, busy, dirty London then, as 
much distinguished for its fogs as it is at present. 

M. Grosley was much struck with the fogs: "We 
may add to the inconvenience of the dirt the fog-smoke 
which, being mixed with a constant fog, covers London 
and wraps it up entirely. . . . On the 26th of April, St. 
James's Park was incessantly covered with fogs, smoke, 
and rain, that scarce left a possibility of distinguishing 
objects at the distance of four steps." 

He speaks at another place of — 

"This smoke being loaded with terrestrial particles 
and rolling in a thick, heavy atmosphere, forms a cloud, 
which envelopes London like a mantle, a cloud which 
the sun pervades but rarely, a cloud which, recoiling back 
upon itself, suffers the sun to break out only now and 
then, which casual appearance procures the Londoners 
a few of what they call glorious days." 

In regard to the main streets and squares in the 
We^ End, the greatest difference noticeable between the 
London of 1 8 1 1 and of the present time would be the 
network of dirty and mean buildings over-spreading the 
part where is now Trafalgar Square. In the middle of 
these stood the King's Mews, which had been rebuilt in 
1732, and was not done away with until 1829. At 
the comer where Northumberland Avenue joins Charing 
Cross, was the splendid mansion of the Duke of 
Northumberland, which remained until 1874. 

Another great difference lay in the fact of there 
being no Regent Street, for this street was not begun 
until two years after Jane's 1 8 1 1 visit Bond Street 
was there and Piccadilly, and across the entrance to the 



Park, where is now the Duke of York's column, was 
Carlton House, the home of the obstreperous Prince of 

In M. Grosles^'s time, Leicester House, in Leicester 
Fields, was still standing, but in 1 8 1 1 it had been 
pulled down. Grosley lodged near here, and his details 
as to rent, etc., are interesting. 

He says that the house of his landlord was small, 
only three storeys high, standing on an irregular patch 
of ground, and rented at thirty-eight guineas a year, with 
an additional guinea for the water supply, which was 
distributed three times weekly. In this house two or 
three little rooms on the first storey, very slightly 
furnished, were let to him at a guinea a week. 

The touch about the water supply points to another 
deficiency; all the present admirable system of private 
taps and other distributing agencies, also the network 
of drains, sewers, etc., had yet to be evolved, for sanita- 
tion was in a veiy elementaiy condition. 

Many of the shops were still distinguished by signs, 
for though the custom of numbering, in place of signs, 
had been introduced, it had made way but slowly, 
thus we find Jane referring to " The tallow chandler is 
Penlingfton, at the Crown and Beehive, Charles Street, 
Covent Garden." 

It would be particularly pleasant to know where she 
did her own shopping in which she was femininely 
interested, but it is difficult to infer. But beyond the 
fact that " Layton and Shears " was evidently the draper 
whom she patronised, and that ** Layton and Shears is 
Bedford House," and that " Fanny bought her Irish at 
Newton's in Leicester Square," we do not get much 
detail. But we glean a few particulars from this visit, 
and one of a later date. 

Grafton House was evidently a famous place for 


shopping, for she and Fanny frequently paid visits there 
before breakfast, which was, however, generally much 
later than we have it, perhaps about ten ; Jane says, " We 
must have been three quarters of an hour at Grafton 
House, Edward sitting by all the time with wonderful 
patience. There Fanny bought the net for Anna's 
gown, and a beautiful square veil for herself. The 
edging there is very cheap. I was tempted by some, 
and I bought some very nice plaiting lace at three and 
fourpence." Again she says, " We set oflF immediately 
after breakfast, and must have reached Grafton House 
by half past eleven ; but when we entered the shop the 
whole counter was thronged and we waited full half an 
hour before we could be attended to." 

" Fanny was much pleased with the stockings she 
bought of Remmington, silk at twelve shillings, cotton 
at four shillings and threepence ; she thinks them great 
bargains, but I have not seen them yet, as my hair was 
dressing when the man and the stockings came." 

It was quite the fashion at that time to patronise 
Wedgwood, whose beautiful china was much in vogue. 
The original founder of the firm had died in 1795, and 
had been succeeded by his son. 

"We then went to Wedgwood's where my brother 
and Fanny chose a dinner set. I believe the pattern 
is a small lozenge in purple, between lines of narrow 
gold, and it is to have the crest." 

This identical dinner set is still in the possession of 
the family. 

Mrs. Lybbe Powys also mentions Wedgwood. " In 
the morning we went to London a-shopping, and at 
Wedgwood's as usual were highly entertained, as I think 
no shop affords so great a variety." 

In the spring of 1 8 1 3 Jane was again in London, 
and visited many picture galleries. The fact of having 


Fanny with her was enough to enhance greatly her 
pleasure in these sights. 

Mrs. Henry Austen had . died in the early part of 
this year, leaving no children. Henry, of course, eventu- 
ally married again, as did all the brothers with the excep- 
tion of Edward Knight, but it was not for seven years ; 
his second wife was Eleanor, daughter of Henry Jackson. 
The house in Sloane Street was given up after his wife's 
death, and he went to Henrietta Street to be near the 
bank. It was here Jane came to him. 

A collection of Sir Joshua Reynolds' paintings was 
being exhibited in Pall Mall, though the great painter 
himself was dead. With her head full of Pride and 
Prejudice^ which had recently been published, Jane looks 
in vain to discover any portrait that will do for Elizabeth 
Bennet, and failing to find one, she writes playfully, '^ I 
can only imagine that Darcy prizes any picture of her 
too much to like it should be exposed to the public eye. 
I can imagine he would have that sort of feeling — that 
mixture of love, pride, and delicacy." 

She, however, is more successful in finding one of 
Jane Bingley, Elizabeth's sister, " Mrs. Bingley's is 
exactly herself — ^size, shaped face, features and sweet- 
ness ; there never was a greater likeness. She is dressed 
in a white gown with green ornaments, which convinces 
me of what I had always supposed, that green was a 
favourite colour with her." 

Kensington Gardens were at that time the resort of 
many of the fashionable; Jane mentions frequently 
walking there, though we doubt if she were attracted 
by the scenes of struggle and confusion that sometimes 
took place. 

From The Times of March 28, 1794, we learn, "the 
access to Kensington Gardens is so inconvenient to the 
visitors, it is to be hoped the politeness of those who 


have the direction of it will induce them to give orders 
for another door to be made for the convenience of the 
public; one door for admission, and another for 
departure would prove a great convenience to the 
visitors. For want of this regulation the ladies fre- 
quently have their clothes torn to pieces, and are much ^ 
hurt by the crowd passing different ways." 

" Two ladies were lucky enough to escape through 
the gate of Kensingfton Gardens, on Sunday last, with 
only a broken arm each. When a few lives have been 
lost perchance then a door or two may be made for the 
convenience of the families of the survivors." 

This shows that there was a wall or high paling 
running completely round the Gardens. 

We find mentioned also the seats or boxes scattered 
up and down the grass-plots, and moving on a pivot to 
catch the sun, a convenience it would be well to restore. 

When one realises the crowds that habitually fre- 
quented the place it seems as if there must be some 
mistake in the record that a man was accidentally shot 
in 1798 when the keepers "were hunting foxes in 
Kensington Gardens ! " 

The Serpentine was made out of the Westbourne 
in 1730, and the gardens reclaimed, having been up to 
then a mere wilderness. During the reig^ of George II., 
the Gardens were only open to the public on Saturdays, 
but when the Court ceased to reside at Kensington 
Palace, they were open during the spring and summer. 
The Broad Walk seems to have been the most fashion- 
able promenade, and doubtless there was frequently to 
be seen here some such crowd as that described by Tickell, 

" Each walk with robes of various dyes bespread 
Seems from afar a moving tulip bed. 
Where rich brocades and glossy damasks glow, 
And chintz, the rival of the showery bow." 





During most of her visits to London, Jane went 
several times to the theatre, chiefly to Covent Garden 
and Drury Lane, which were then considered far the 
best, though there were many others existing, auEiong 
which were the Adelphi, which had been opened in 
1806; Astle/s Amphitheatre for the exhibition of 
trained horses, which was very popular ; the Haymarket, 
or Little Theatre, taken down in 1820; the Lyceum, 
which was then the opoa house, having been enlarged 
in 1 809 ; the Olympic, which belonged to Astl^, and 
where there was the same style of show as at his 
other theatre; the Pantheon, Oxford Street, chiefly for 
masquerades and concerts, reopened as an opera house 
in 18 1 2 and sold up in 18 14; the Queen's, near 
Tottenham Court Road, not much known or frequented ; 
a description which also applies to the old Royalty in 
Well Street and others. Among places of amusement 
must also be enumerated the Italian Opera House, 
which stood where His Majesty's Theatre is at present 
It was opened in 1705, burnt down in 1789, and 
rebuilt the following year. 

Of the two principal theatres, Covent Garden had 
been opened by Rich in 1737, it was afterwards greatly 
enlarged and improved, and in 1803 John Kemble 
became proprietor. Only five years later it was burnt 
to the ground. The new theatre, built on the same 
site, was reopened in 1809, when the prices were 
raised : they had been, boxes 4s.; pit 2s 6d. ; first gallery 
IS. 6d. ; upper gallery is. There were then no stalls, 
and persons of '' quality " had to go to boxesL The 
prices demanded by Kemble were: boxes 7s.; pit 3s.; 
gallery 2s. ; while the upper gallery remained the same. 
A fearful riot broke out on the first night of the new 
prices, and the mob would hear no explanations, listen 
to no reason. The members who banded themselves 




together adopted the name of O.P., for Old Prices, and 
would not allow the play to proceed, making an 
indescribable din with whistles, cat*calls, and shrieks. 
After weeks of dispute, a compromise was arrived at, 
the higher price being retained in the case of the 

At an earlier date some of the audience had actually 
been seated on the stage among the performers; and 
there were still in Jane's time boxes on the stage, 
but outside the curtain. We can see this in the illustra- 
tion of the Little Theatre, Haymarket, where the pit 
comes right up to the footlights, there being no stalls, 
and the patrons of the pit are seated on backless 
benches not divided into compartments. 

We gather from contemporary literature that it 
was a common thing to go to rehearsals of the per- 
formances at the opera, and that there was a coffee- 
room attached, which formed at least as great an 
attraction to the idle rich, who loved to chatter sweet 
nothings, as the piece itself. 

Kemble was the brother of Mrs. Siddons, and did 
as much as any man for the improvement of the stage ; 
when he first began his career, he was struck by the 
ludicrous conventionality of the dresses, which were as 
much a matter of form as the custom of representing 
statues of living men " in Roman habit." He and the 
great Garrick killed this foolish custom. 

The conventionalism in matters of dress upon the 
stage is noticed by the ubiquitous M. Grosley thus — 

^'On the stage the principal actresses drag long 
trains after them, and are followed by a little boy in 
quality of a train-bearer, who is as inseparable from 
them as the shadow from the body. This page keeps 
his eye constantly upon the train of the princess, sets 
it to rights when it is ever so little ruffled or dis- 




ordered, and b seen to run after it with all his m^^ht, 
when a violent emotion makes the princess hurry from 
one side of the stage to another." 

Drury Lane Theatre has an older record than 
Covent Garden. It dates from 1663, and in 1682 
was the only theatre in London, being considered 
sufficient for the joint representations of the two old 
established companies of players, The King's and The 
Duke's. It was many times rebuilt, being more than 
once destroyed by fire ; in fact nothing is more striking 
in the annals of theatres than the astonishing number 
of times nearly every theatre has been burnt down. 
The third house was burnt in February 1809, and its 
successor opened in 1812, with a prologue by Lord 
Byron. During Jane Austen's first recorded visit to 
London, therefore, it would be in course of rebuilding, 
though on subsequent visits it would be very fashion- 
able, being new. 

Just as in novels during the lifetime of Jane Austen, 
there was an enormous change from the grandiloquent 
and conventional, to the natural and simple, and the 
same in poetry, so it was on the stage. The absurd 
conventionalism, the unsuitable dresses, no matter what, 
so long as they were grand, were exchanged for easy 
^ declamation and natural attitude. 

Garrick, as we have said, was one of the first actors 
to begin this movement, and it is no wonder that he 
won the applause of London, and that crowds came to 
hear him, so that in 1744, when he was to act Hamlet, 
servants were sent at three o'clock in the afternoon to 
keep places for their employers, for there were then no 
such things as reserved seats. Fine actors and 
actresses abounded in the eighteenth century; Mrs. 
Siddons, who was bom in 1755, did not give her farewell 
performance in Lady Macbeth until 1812, and lived 

7 >^ **^v ^ 







long after. Both Mrs. Oldfield and Peg Woffington, 
however, had passed away before Jane's time. 

It was an age when people were wild about acting, 
and private theatres were a common hobby, many a 
young spark ruined himself in this extravagance, and 
The Times of 1798 mentions that there were no fewer 
than six private theatres in London and Westminster. 

The plays commented upon in Jane's letters seem 
to us very dull, " Fanny and the two little girls are 
gone to take places for to-night at Covent Garden ; 
Clandestine Marriage and Midas. The latter will be 
a fine show for L[izzie] and M[arianne]. They revelled 
last night in Don Juan whom we left in hell at half 
past eleven. We had Scaramouch and a ghost, and 
were delighted. I speak of them; my delight was 
very tranquil, and the rest of us were sober minded. 
Don Juan was the last of three musical things. Five 
Hours at Brighton^ in three acts, and the Beehive rather 
less flat and trumpery." 

"We had good places in the box next the stage 
box. ... I was particularly disappointed at seeing 
nothing of Mr. Crabbe. I felt sure of him when I 
saw the boxes were fitted up with crimson velvet. 
The new Mr. Terry was Lord Ogleby, and Henry 
thinks he may do, but there was no acting more than 

In the following year, 18 14, her comments are, 
" We went to the play again last night. The Farmer^ s 
Wife is a musical thing in three acts, and, as Edward 
was steady in not staying for anything more, we wefe 
home before ten. Fanny and Mr. J. P. are delighted 

with Miss S all that I am sensible of ... is a 

pleasing person and no skill in acting. We had 
Mathews, Liston, and Enery; of course some amuse- 
ment." " Prepare for a play the very first evening. 


I rather think Covent Garden, to see Young in 

Miss S was probably Miss Stephens, a singer 

who made her debut in 1812 in concerts, and appeared 
on the stage at Covent Garden in 1813 ; she afterwards 
became Countess of Essex. She was considered ^un- 
surpassed for her rendering of ballads." Jane mentions 
her again — 

** We are to sec the Devil to Pay to-nig^t I expect 
to be very much amused. Excepting Miss Stephens, I 
daresay Artaxerxes will be very tiresome/' 

The Mathews she mentions was Charles Mathews 

Liston was at first master of St Martin's Grammar 
School, Leicester Square, but became a popular actor, 
and at the time of her writing was appearing at Covent 
Garden. But by far the best actor she records having 
seen is Kean. "We were quite satisfied with Kean, I 
cannot imagine better acting, but the part was too short 
and excepting him and Miss Smith, — and she did not 
quite answer my expectation, — ^the parts were ill-filled 
and the play heavy. We were too much tired for the 
whole of Illusion {Nourjahad), which has three acts ; there 
is a great deal of finery and dancing in it, but I think 
littie merit. Elliston was Nourjahad, but I think it is 
I a solemn sort of part, not at all calculated for his powers, 

r There was nothing of the best Elliston about him, I 

might not have known him but for his voice," and later, 
/ *' I shall like to see Kean again excessively, and to see 

him with you too. It appeared to me as if there were 
no fault in him anywhere ; and in his scene with Tubal 
there was exquisite acting." 
r In another place she says that so great was the rage 

^ for seeing Kean that only a third or fourth row could be 

got, and that " he is more admired than ever." 



This is very difierent from Miss Mitford's account of 
her first impressions of the great actor : " Well, I went 
to see Mr. Kean and was thoroughly disgusted. This 
monarch of the stage is a little insignificant man, slightly 
deformed, strongly ungraceful, seldom pleasing the eye, 
still seldomer satisfying the ear — with a voice between 
grunting and croaking, a perpetual hoarseness which 
suffocates his words, and a vulgarity of manner which 
his admirers are pleased to call nature ... his acting 
will always be, if not actually insupportable, yet unequal, 
disappointing and destructive of all illusion." 

But, as in her account of Darcy and Elizabeth, we 
have seen that Miss Mitford preferred the stereotyped 
and conventional to the natural, of which Jane Austen 
was so ardent an admirer, therefore we cannot feel much 
surprise at the difference between the two opinions. 

Jane evidently enjoyed good acting, but was critical 
and not a great lover of the drama unless it was very 
well done ; this we might expect, for naturalness was her 
admiration, and naturalness she would only find in first- 
rate performers such as Kean. 



THE nephews and nieces at Godmersham were 
rapidly growing into men and women. Edward 
and George on leaving Winchester went to Oxford ; the 
luxurious way in which they were brought up evidently 
sometimes annoyed their aunt, who was accustomed to see 
the younger generation more repressed; she says of them — 

" As I wrote of my nephews with a little bitterness 
in my last, I think it particularly incumbent on me to 
do them justice now, and I have great pleasure in 
saying they were both at the Sacrament yesterday ; now 
these two boys, who are out with the foxhounds, will 
come home and disgust me again by some habit of 
luxury or some proof of sporting mania." 

While Jane was at Godmersham in 1 8 1 3, her brother 
Charles, his wife, and little daughters were there too. 
It was the custom then — ^though not an invariable one 
but a matter of inclination — for a captain in the Navy 
to take his wife and children voyaging with him. It will 
be remembered that in Persuasion Captain Wentworth 
says he hates " to hear of women on board," and Mrs. 
Croft, whose husband is an Admiral, declares " women 
may be as comfortable on board as in the best house 
in England. I believe I have lived as much on board 
as most women and I know nothing superior to the 
accommodation of a man-of-war." 



Charles Austen's wife and children seem to have 
spent a good deal of time on board with him; and 
Cassy, the eldest girl, a delicate quiet child, suffered from 
seasickness during rough weather. Jane says affection- 
ately of her, " Poor little love ! I wish she were not so 
very Palmery, but it seems stronger than ever. I never 
knew a wife's family features have such undue influence." 
Cassy was not quite happy among her cousins, " they are 
too many and too boisterous for her." Jane speaks of 
her and her mother as being " their own nice selves, 
Fanny looking as neat and white this morning as possible, 
and Charles all affectionate, placid, quiet, cheerful good 

Alas, in September of the following year Mrs. 
Charles Austen died in childbirth. Her husband, who 
was a very domestic man, felt the loss severely ; subse- 
quently he married her sister Harriet, and became the 
father of two boys in addition to his little daughters. 

In 1 8 1 4, Edward Knight was annoyed by a claimant 
to the Chawton estate, and it appears from what Miss 
Mitford says on the subject in her letters, that this was 
in consequence of old Mr. Knight's not having fulfilled 
some technical point in connection with the property. 
As Chawton was worth about ;f 5000 a year, the matter 
was serious, and that it was not altogether a fancy originat- 
ing in the mind of the claimant, is shown by the fact that 
after protracted discussions, Edward Knight did, in 1 8 1 7, 
pay him a sum of money to settle the matter. 

We have no letters of Jane's before November 1815; 
but she was probably at home at Chawton with her 
sister and mother, when the news that Napoleon had 
escaped from Elba burst upon the world like a thunder- 
clap ! The call to arms rang throughout Europe, and 
then followed the terrible Hundred Days which ended 
on June the eighteenth with the Battle of Waterloo. 


Alison in his Epitome of the History of Europe says, 
** No one who was of an age to understand what was 
going on can ever forget the entrancing joy which 
thrilled through the British heart at the news of Waterloo. 
The thanks of Parliament were voted to Wellington and 
his army; a medal struck by government was given 
to every officer and soldier who had borne arms on 
that eventful day; and not less than ;£'$ 00,000 was 
raised by voluntary subscriptions for those wounded in 
the fight, and the widows and orphans of the fallen." 

We wonder if the household at Chawton contributed 
its mite among the rest ? Jane's heart surely must have 
thrilled in unison with those of her countrymen ! 

Louis XVIII. was once more placed on the throne of 
his fathers, and Napoleon was sent to St. Helena. He 
arrived there on November the sixteenth, and by that 
date Jane was again in London nursing her brother 

Between 18 14 and 18 16 many charming letters 
passed between Jane and her young niece Fanny, and 
as these contain more of the personal element than any 
of the others that have been preserved, they are among 
the most interesting of all. At the beginning of these 
letters Fanny was twenty-one, which in those days was 
considered quite a staid age for an unmarried girl. In 
one of her letters she tells her aunt that her feelings had 
cooled towards someone, who at one time she had 
thought of marrying. 

Jane's answer is full of sense and sympathy, and 
gives us much insight into her own views on the 
relations of the sexes. "What strange creatures we 
are," she writes, " it seems as if your being secure of 
him had made you indifferent. • . . There was a little 
disgust I suspect at the races, and I do not wonder 
at it. His expressions then would not do for one who 


had rather more acuteness, penetration, and taste, than 
love, which was your case, and yet after all I am 
surprised that the change in the feelings should be so 
great. He is just what he ever was, only more evidently 
and uniformly devoted to you . . . 

'^ Oh dear Fanny ! Your mistake has been one 
that thousands of women fall into. He was the first 
young man who attached himself to you. That 
was the charm, and most powerful it is. . . . Upon the 
whole what is to be done? You have no inclination 
for any other person. His situation in life, family, 
friends and above all his character, his uncommonly 
amiable mind, strict principles, just notions, good habits, 
all that you know so well how to value, all that is really 
of the first importance, pleads his cause most strongly. 
You have no doubt of his having superior abilities, he 
has proved it at the University, he is, I dare say, such 
a scholar as your agreeable idle brothers would ill bear 
a comparison with. The more I write about him the 
more strongly I feel the desirableness of your growing 
in love with him again. . . . There are such beings in the 
world, perhaps one in a thousand, as the creature you 
and I should think perfection, where grace and spirit 
are united to worth, where the manners are equal to 
the heart and understanding, but such a person may not 
come in your way, or, if he does, he may not be the 
eldest son of a man of fortune, the near relation of your 
own particular friend and belonging to your own country. 
. . . And now my dear Fanny, having written so much 
on one side of the question I shall turn round and entreat 
you not to commit yourself farther, and not to think 
of accepting him unless you really do like him. 
Anything is to be preferred or endured rather than 
marrying without affection; and if his deficiencies of 
manner strike you more than all his good qualities, if 


you continue to think strongly of them, give him up 
at once . . . 

" When I consider how few young men you have 
yet seen much of; how capable you are of being 
really in love ; and how full of temptation the next six 
or seven years of your life will probably be, I cannot 
wish you, with your present very cool feelings, to devote 
yourself in honour to him. It is very true that you 
never may attach another man his equal altogether ; 
but if that other man has the power of attaching you 
more^ he will be in your eyes the most perfect. 

"You are inimitable, irresistible. You are the 
delight of my life. Such letters, such entertaining 
letters as you have lately sent! such a description 
of your queer little heart ! such a lovely display 
of what imagination does ! . . . You are so odd, and 
all the time so perfectly natural, so peculiar in your- 
self, and yet so like everybody else. It is very, very 
gratifying to me to know you so intimately. . . . Oh 
what a loss it will be when you are married ! You 
are too agreeable in your single state. I shall hate you 
when your delicious play of mind is all settled down 
into conjugal and maternal affections . . . 

"And yet I do wish you to marry very much be- 
cause I know you will never be happy till you are," and 
later on, apropos of someone else, she adds : " Single 
women have a dreadful propensity for being poor, which 
is one very strong argument in favour of matrimony, 
but I need not dwell on such arguments with you, pretty 
dear. To you I shall say, as I have often said before, 
Do not be in a hurry, the right man will come at last ; 
you will in the course of the next two or three years 
meet with somebody more generally unexceptionable 
than anyone you have yet known, who will love you 
as warmly as possible, and who will so completely 


attract you that you will feel you never really loved 

But it was not until 1820 that Fanny married, as 
his second wife, the Rt Hon. Sir Edward Knatchbull, 
9th Bt, .who had already five sons and one daughter, the 
eldest boy being twelve years old. Six years after the 
marris^e, the daughter married Fanny's brother Edward. 
She herself lived to nearly ninety, and was the mother 
of five sons and four daughters, and in 1880 her eldest 
son was created Baron Braboume ; and he, as has been 
already stated, was the editor of the volumes of Letters. 

But Jane's sympathetic advice was called for by 
more than one niece passing through the difficult time 
between girlhood and womanhood; Anna, her eldest 
brother James's daughter, was a frequent visitor at 
Chawton, and though she does not seem ever to have 
taken quite the same position in her aunt's affections 
as Fanny did, she was yet a lively, amusing, pleasant 

She had evidently determined to follow in her aunt's 
footsteps, as was most natural, and had attempted to 
write a novel herself; Jane's treatment of her tentative 
efforts was very kind, some of the letters to the would- 
be authoress are preserved, and nothing could be gentler. 
" I am very much obliged to you for sending me 
your MS. It has entertained me extremely; indeed all 
of us. I read it aloud to your grandmamma and aunt 
Cass, and we were all very pleased. The - spirit does 
not drop at all. Now we have finished the second 
book or rather the fifth: Susan is a nice animated 
little creature, but St. Julian is the delight of our lives. 
He is quite interesting. The whole of his break off 
with Lady Helena is very well done." She then goes 
in great detail into all the characters, making various 
suggestions: "You are but now coming to the heart 


and beauty of your story. UntQ the heroine grows 
up the fun must be imperfect, but I expect a great deal 
of entertainment from the next three or four books, 
and I hope you will not resent these remarks by sending 
me no more/' 

Then she gives one or two characteristic touches. 

"Devereux Forester's being ruined by his vanity 
is extremely good, but I wish you would not let him 
plunge into a ' vortex of dissipation/ I do not object to 
the thing but cannot bear the expression; it is such 
thorough novel slang, and so old that I daresay Adam 
met with it in the first novel he opened/' 

In 1 8 14, Anna was engaged to Benjamin Lefroy, 
whom she married in November. After her marriage 
she first lived at Hendon, but in the following year 
she and her husband took a small house near Alton» so 
that she was within a walk of Chawton. She still 
went on with her novel-writing. And Jane continued 
to criticise her progress — 

^ We have no great right to wonder at his [Benjamin 
Lefro/s] not valuing the name of Progillian. That is 
a source of delight which even he can hardly be quite 
competent to" 

'*St Julian's history was quite a surprise to me. 
You had not very long known it yourself I suspect. 
His having been in love with the aunt gives Cecilia an 
additional interest with him. I like the idea, a very 
proper compliment to an aunt ! I rather imagine indeed 
that nieces are seldom chosen but out of compliment to 
some aunt or other. I daresay Ben was in love with 
me once, and would never have thought of you if he 
had not supposed me dead of scarlet fever/' 

Anna became the mother of six daughters and one 
son, and lived until 1872. 



IN October i8i5» Henry Austen was dangerously ill 
He had by this time moved into another house, 
irtiidi was in Hans Place, quite near his former residence 
in Sloane Street, though the connection with the bank in 
Henrietta Stieet was still kept up. Both his sisters 
woe with him at first, and an express was sent for his 
brodber Edward, so critical was his state considered to 
b^ bat be rallied, and afinwards, when he was out of 
danger, Edward and Cassandra went on to OuwU/n^ 
and Jane was le& to nurse him hack to o>oipVie hMJtlt 
The ideas of mtAycmt at that tirrje we^e priff/tiir^f luA 

<» €l 3j<y GB^JMsi, y^z^Su fr;uvt bare i«w isetj/vmiv^ ivr 
flDOBiy a -vox "^fAy^ g: ^ir/g i^ t5:i^ ^>UL 

* !» i^» irX, tii-uie tros: a<:.-::fasTr. laarsi 5fe iiC -i^ tawt. -i^ 
aoil Vfj^jKti^t tnfirr ^irrse ^ inr ^s^ ir Halter «p)p»sr4. ' 

^ MX*> 

y^\rrMC.Uti ijffiti lie >.C5 

c£: msxncnisi ii^- 

e '^r^^^. ri 


Jane's playiiil lepudiation : "You seem to be under a 
mistake as to Mr. M. you call him an apothecary. He 
is no apothecary, he has never been an apothecary ; there 
is not an apothecary in the nei|^boarhood — ^the only 
inconvenience of the situation perhaps — ^but so it is, we 
have not a medical man within reach. He is a Haden, 
nothing but a Haden, a sort of wonderful nondescript 
creature on two 1^^, something between a man and an 
angel, but without the least spice of an apothecary. He 
is perhaps the only person not an apothecary here- 

As it happened, this nursing of her brother brought 
her into public notice, for the physician who attended 
Henry Austen was also a physician of the Prince 
Regent's. At that time, though Jane's name had not 
appeared on the title-page of her books, there was no 
longer any secret as to the writer's identity, and the 
doctor told her one day that the Prince of Wales, who 
had been made Regent in i8i i, was a great admirer of 
her novels ; this is the only good thing one ever heard 
of George IV., and one cannot help doubting the fact ; 
it is hard to imagine his reading any book, however 
delightful. The physician, however, added that the 
Prince read the novels often, and kept a set in every one 
of his residences, further, he himself had told the Prince 
that the author was in London, and he had desired his 
librarian to wait upon her. The librarian, Mr. Clarke, 
duly came, and Jane was invited to go to Carlton House, 
but it does not seem that the Prince himself deigned to 
bestow any personal notice upon her, or that he even 
saw her ; she saw Mr. Clarke and Mr. Clarke alone, and 
therefore one begins to feel tolerably sure that it was 
from Mr. Clarke the whole thing originated. This worthy 
man deserves some credit, but that he was lacking in 
any sense of humour or knowledge of life was evidenced 




by his ponderous suggestions as to future books, one of 
which was that Jane should ''delineate in some future 
work the habits of life, character, and enthusiasm of a 
clergyman, who should pass his time between the metro- 
polis and the country, who should be something like 
Beattie's minstrel"; and when this was rejected, "an 
historical romance illustrative of the august house of 
Cobourg, would just now be very interesting." Jane's 
r^ly is full of good sense and excellently expressed. 
" You are very kind in your hints as to the sort of com- 
position which might recommend me at present, and I 
am fully sensible that an historical romance, founded on 
the House of Cobourg, might be much more to the 
purpose of profit or popularity than such pictures of 
domestic life in country villages as I deal in. But I 
could no more write a romance than an epic poem. I 
could not sit seriously down to write a serious romance 
under any other motive than to save my life ; and if it 
were indispensable for me to keep it up, and never relax 
into laughing at myself or at other people, I am sure I 
should be hung before I had finished the first chapter. 
I must keep to my own style and go on in my own 
way ; and though I may never succeed again in that, I 
am convinced that I should totally fail in any other." 
(Mr. Austen-Leigh's Memoir) She, however, gladly 
agreed to dedicate her next work to His Royal High- 
ness. The next work was Emma^ then nearly ready for 
publication. Mr. Murray was the publisher, and the 
dedication, which had been graciously accepted, appeared 
on the title-page. 

The state of the Court at that time is abundantly 
pictured in numerous memoirs, diaries, journals, etc., not 
the least among which is that of Miss Burney, Jane's 
contemporary and sister authoress. George ill. had 
one very striking virtue — striking in his time and position 


and especially in his family — ^he seems to have lived a 
good domestic life. He had been married young, to a 
princess who had no beauty to recommend her, and his 
first feelings on seeing her had been those of disappoint- 
ment, but being a sensible, kindly man, he had soon 
learnt to value the good heart and nature of the girl who 
had come so far to marry a man she had never seen. 
Their numerous family linked them together, and though 
the sons were a constant source of trouble and notorious 
in their wild lives, the tribe of princesses seem to have 
endeared themselves to everyone by their gracious 
manners. Poor old George himself, with his well-meant, 
" What ? What ? What ? " and his homely ways, 
could never offend intentionally, and the " sweet queen," 
as Miss Bumey so fulsomely calls her, though fully con- 
scious of her own dignity, and not disposed to make a 
fiiss about the hardships inseparable from the position of 
her waiting-women, was yet at the bottom kind-hearted 

As for most of the princes, however, their ways were 
a byword and scandal. In every contemporary book we 
read of their being drunk, and otherwise disgracing 

The Prince of Wales and the Duke of York were the 
worst, and the Dukes of Clarence and Kent seem to 
have been the best. At Brighton, where the Prince of 
Wales had established his pavilion, orgies of drink and 
coarseness went on that disgusted even those accustomed 
to very free manners ; the princes appeared in public 
with their mistresses, and reeled into public ball-rooms. 
The Prince's treatment of his own ill-used . wife is well 
known. Purely from caprice, and without a shadow of 
justification, she, the mother of his only child Princess 
Charlotte, was dismissed from her home, and forbidden 
any of the privileges or respect due to her rank, a course 


of treatment which made England despised among the 
nations. Of the other two we read : — 

"The duke of Kent is certainly one of the most 
steady looking of the princes, perhaps he may be heavy, 
but he has unquestionably the most of a Man of Business 
in his Appearance." 

And Horace Walpole says — 

" My neighbour, the Duke of Clarence, is so popular, 
that if Richmond were a borough, and he had not 
attained his title, but still retained his idea of standing 
candidate, he would certainly be elected there. He pays 
his bills regularly himself, locks up his doors at night, 
that his servants may not stay out late, and never 
drinks but a few glasses of wine. Though the value of 
crowns is mightily fallen of late at market, it looks as 
if His Royal Highness thought they were still worth 
waiting for ; nay, it is said that he tells his brothers, that 
he shall be king before either ; this is fair at least." He 
was afterwards William IV. 

The Prince of Wales mixed freely in political in- 
trigues of the worst kind, and took part in faction politics. 
As a man he was a contemptible creature without 
character or intellect, but, in spite of all his faults, he had 
a certain number of admirers, because as a young man 
he was graceful and obliging in manners, and personal 
graciousness in a sovereign covers a multitude of sins. 

It is incongruous that a pure sweet story such as 
Emma should have been dedicated to a man whose faults 
and vices were such as the clean-minded author could 
never have conceived, but the dedication probably served 
the purpose of advertising this, the last novel that Jane 
herself was to see issued to the public. 

Emma ranks very high indeed among the novels, but 
it relies for its position on a different sort of excellence 
from that which distinguishes Pride and Prejudice ; there 


is in it, as we mig^t have expected, more finished wt>ric- 
manship and less of the brilliancy of youth. The book 
is not so lively as Pride and Prejudice^ and its somewhat 
slow opening) unlike Jane's usual style, is enough to 
discourage some readers who expect to be plunged into a 
scene such as that which begins her first novel, or which 
comes very soon in Sense and Sensibility. Emma has, 
however, more plot than is usual with Jane Austen's 
writings, it is more deliberately constructed, and y^X. the 
whole scene takes place in a quiet country village without 
^nce changing. 

The heroine Emma, whose domestic importance as 
the only unmarried daughter of a wealthy widower has 
given her a full idea of her own value, has developed her 
individuality very strongly. She is not spoilt, but all 
her words and actions betoken one accustomed to impress 
her will on her surroundings, in a vray not often allowed 
to unmarried girls at home. The motif is her match- 
making propensity, which again and again brings her to 
^J grief; this affords opening for many of the humorous 
touches in which the author delights. 

The book is very rich in secondary characters. The 
garrulous, kind-hearted Miss Bates, with her rattling 
tongue, is one of the strongly individualised comic 
characters which Jane generally manages to insert. She 
ranks with Mr. Collins, with Mrs. Norris, and the lesser 
specimens of the same gallery,Mrs. Allen and Mrs. Jennings. 
She is admirably true to life, just such a garrulous, 
empty-headed, good-hearted, tiresome creature as many 
a governess of the old school has degenerated into in 
the evening of her life. 

Emma's father, the valetudinarian Mr. Woodhouse, 
has been said to be overdrawn, but the great merit of 
Jane's work is that she does not exaggerate; traits to 
be found in people that any of us might number among 


our acquaintance are so skilfully depicted as to appear 
prominent ; she selects true if extreme types, and does 
not draw monstrosities such as these in which Dickens's \'; 
books abound, and of which one can only say they may \ 
have existed, once, at one time, but are as rare as the / ^ 
exhibits in a dime museum. 

Mr. Woodhouse's married daughter, Mrs. Knightley, 
is excellently done; her sympathy with her father's 
tastes is only kept in check by her affection for husband 
and children, which forces her to attend to them and 
forget herself; yet the enjoyment with which she sips 
her gruel, when allowed to have it, is real enjoyment, and 
she would have certainly lived on gruel too had she 
been an old maid. 

The hero, Mr. Knightley, is one of the few sensible 
men among Jane's heroes, and he with his experience 
and strength of character, is, as has been said elsewhere, 
the only true mate for Emma. Knightley has been 
criticised as a prig, but he is far from that. He was 
a stem elderly man apparently at least forjy-five in age, 
though we are told he was only thirty. MEmma herself 
has more ability than her rival, Elizabem Bennet, in 
Pride and Prejudice ; her mind has more depth .and 
application : we could imagine Emma reading and 
studying, whereas, pleasant as Elizabeth might have been 
as a companion, her forte was general intelligent interest 
not depth, and we could not picture her deeply absorbed 
in any book but a novel. Emma was one of Jane's own 
favourite heroines, and she said of her, " I am going to 
draw a heroine whom no one but myself will much like." 
It is true that for the generality of men Emma would, in 
real life, have been just a little too strong, but she is none 
the less interesting to read aboiitj y 

Mr. Elton has already beeiPcommented on in the 
chapter on clergymen; a more perfect match than he 



and his vulgar flashy wife would be difficult to find. As 
for Jane's traits of character in regard to the hero and 
his brother, her genius cannot be better expressed than 
in the words of Mr. Herries Pollock, who calls it " the 
finely touched likeness and unlikeness between the 
brothers Knightley. At every turn of phrase, at every 
step so to speak, one knows ^hich is the better man, 
and yet the point is never pressed by- the author." 
Though on the whole the book has less verve than 
Fride and Prejudice^ it is rich in observation and quiet 

It was published by Mr. Murray in December 181 5. 
Jane says of it — 

" My greatest anxiety at present is that this fourth 
work should not disgrace what was good in the others. 
But on this point I will do myself the justice to declare 
that, whatever may be my wishes for its success, I am 
strongly haunted with the idea that to those readers 
who have preferred Pride and Prejudice it will appear 
inferior in wit, and to those who have preferred Mans- 
field Park inferior in good sense." (Mr. Austen-Leigh's 

A reviewer in The Quarterly of the autumn 181 5 
includes Emma with other works of the same writer. It 
has been supposed, therefore, that the proof sheets must 
have been in the hands of the Quarterly reviewer before 
the work was actually issued. Mr. Austin-Dobson, by 
application to Mr. Murray, cleared up the difficulty, for 
he ascertained that, owing to exceptional delays, the 
number of the Review bearing date October 181 5 did 
not in reality come out until March 1816, and that 
therefore Emma had actually appeared before its pro- 

The reviewer was Sir Walter Scott, as is stated by 
Lockhart in a note to the Life^ who adds that Emma 


and Northanger Abbey were in particular great favourites 
of Scott's. In his summary at the end of the article, Sir 
Walter Scott says — 

"The author's knowledge of the world and the 
peculiar tact with which she presents characters that the 
reader cannot fail to recognise, reminds us something 
of the merits of the Flemish school of painting. The 
subjects are not often elegant and certainly never grand ; 
but they are finished up to nature, and with a precision 
which delights the reader." " The faults on the contrary 
arise from the minute detail which the author's plan 
comprehends. Characters of folly or simplicity such as 
those of old Woodhouse and Miss Bates, are ridiculous 
when first presented, but if too often brought forward, or 
too long dwelt upon, their prosing is apt to become as 
tiresome in fiction as in real society." 

In this we cannot agree, to accuse Jane of it is to 
accuse her of lacking the very gift in which she was pre- 
eminent — selection. The merit of her bores is that they 
never bore, but are only amusing. She never proses, and 
her few paragraphs of quotation from the sayings of 
Miss Bates set that lady before us as clearly or more 
clearly than if fifty pages from the actual life had been 
given by the phonograph, f^ 

From what Jane says she apparently saw this article 
in March 1 8 1 6 when she was back at Chawton ; for she 
writes: "The authoress of Emma has no reason, I 
think, to complain of her treatment in it, except in the 
total omission of Mansfield Park ; I cannot but be sorry 
that so clever a man as the reviewer of Emma should 
consider it as unworthy of being noticed." 

That Jane was satisfied with her treatment by Mr. 
Murray may be seen by her handing over to him the 
conduct of the second edition of Mansfield Park. She 
writes in one place, " I had a most civil note in reply from 


Mr. Murray. He is so very polite indeed that it is quite 

At this time she must have b^[un the last and 
shortest of her books, Persuasion^ which she finished in 
August of the same year. And with this we enter on 
the last phase, the gradual decline and sinking of the 
bright spirit, which had added so greatly to the happiness 
of thousands it had never known. 


THE evening of Jane's life had set in, but yet it had 
not occurred even to those who loved her best 
that they must inevitably lose her. She was in her forty- 
iirst year ; recognition from the public had just begun to 
be accorded to her ; in the novels she had lately written no 
sign of decay could be detected. It is true that in both 
Emma and Persuasion there is a particular maturity of 
rendering, and a kindlier tone that marks perhaps a 
difference, but not d^eneracy. If the word seriousness 
can ever be used of such clear-cut, brilliant work as hers, 
we might say that a certain sweet seriousness pervaded 
these two, which are more alike in tone than any of the 
other novels. Persuasion has been called the '' most beau- 
tiful of all the novels " ; it has many excellencies, not the 
least among which is the character of the heroine, whose 
girlish weakness develops into a loyal steadfastness. 
She has also that endearingness that perhaps certain 
others of the heroines lack. In fact, of all the principal 
female characters that of Anne Elliot has most of that 
nameless and indefinable charm, which comes from a 
combination of qualities such as firmness, gentleness, 
unselfishness, sympathy and sweetness, a charm which is 
more lovable than any number of stereotyped graces. 
Though Anne was at one time weak, we feel that she 
outgrows it, that it was the weakness of immaturity, not 
of character, and that her loyalty fully redeems it. 




^ an 


Jane herself says of Anne Elliot, " You may perhaps 
like the heroine as she is almost too good for me/' yet 
the too-good note seems less obtrusive with Anne than 
with Fanny Price, whose exceeding surface meekness 
does sometimes produce a little exasperation. Anne and 
Fanny have the most in common among the heroines of 
the novels, yet what a difference is there 1 Fanny has 
many virtues, but her intense nervous sensitiveness makes 
one feel her self-consciousness, and underlying all her 
shrinking there was a quality of obstinacy that is felt 
without being insisted upon. It is just the subtle 
difference that Jane knew so well how to make, the 
feeling perhaps is that Fanny is not quite a gentlewoman, 
at she would be difficult to get on with, however meek 
and self-effacing on the surface, while Anne could never 
be anything but a delightful companion. 

Incidentally some parts of Persuasion have already 
been referred to, Louisa Musgrove's fall on the Cobb, the 
scenes that take place in Bath, the touching words of 
Anne when she feels that she has hopelessly lost her 
lover, which strike a deeper note of feeling than any other 
in the whole range of the novels. It remains therefore 
but to say that there is no secondary character to equal 
those of Miss Bates or Mr. Collins, that the secondary 
characters are in all cases less sharply defined than those 
usually depicted by Jane, but that Captain Wentworth 
is equal to his good fortune, and that as a pair of lovers 
he and Anne stand unrivalled. 

Persuasion was finished in July 1 8 1 6, but Jane was 
not satisfied with it, perhaps her own failing health and 
the sense of tiredness that went with it, had made her 
lose that grip of the action that she had hitherto held so 
well ; she felt the story did not end satisfactorily, that 
it wanted bringing together and clinching so to speak; 
Mr. Austen-Leigh says : " This weighed upon her mind, 


the more so probably on account of her weak state of 
health, so that one night she retired to rest in very low 
spirits. But such depression was little in accordance 
with her nature, and was soon shaken off. The next 
morning she woke to more cheerful views and brighter 
inspirations ; the sense of power revived and imagination 
resumed its course. She cancelled the condemned 
chapter and wrote two others, entirely different, in its 

These were the tenth and eleventh chapters, and 
contained the scene in which Anne so touchingly 
expresses her ideas on the theme of woman's love. 
There is no question that the story as it now stands 
is improved by the change, and that her instinct was 
true. Mr. Austen-Leigh gives the cancelled chapter in 
his Memoir, and it certainly is "tame and flat" com- 
pared with the others, and had she not made the 
substitution it might justly have been said that Persua- 
sion, however charming, did show signs of failing power. 

This book was not published until after her death, 
when it appeared in one volume with Northanger Abbey, 
the first to which her name was prefixed, this came 
out in 1 81 8 with a Memoir by her brother Henry, 
Up to the time of her death she had received nearly 
seven hundred pounds for the published books, which, 
considering her anonymity, and entire lack of publicity 
and influence, must have appeared to her, and indeed 
was, wonderful, though in comparison with the true 
value of the work very little indeed. 

In December 1 8 1 6 her brothers, Henry and Charles, 
were both at Chawton, and she speaks of their being in 
good health and spirits. She got through the winter 
well, and wrote to a friend in January, " Such mild 
weather is, you know, delightful to us, and though 
we have a great many ponds and a fine running stream 


through the meadows on the other side of the road, it 
is nothing but what beautifies us and does to talk o£ 
I have 'certainly gained _ strength through the winter, 
and am not far from being well And I think I 
understand my own case now so much better than 
I did, as to be able by care to keep off any serious 
return of illness." 

She had taken to using a donkey-carriage in good 
weather, and doubtless this was a great boon, though 
she was able to walk one way either to or from Alton 
without over-fatigue, and hoped to be able to manage 
both ways when the summer came. In January also 
she mentions that her brother Henry, who was now 
ordained, was coming down to preach. "It will be a 
nervous hour for our pew, though we hear that he 
acquits himself with as much ease and collectedness 
as if he had been used to it all his life." 

Her last completed book Persuasion was not her last 
work, even in declining strength the motive power was 

" Upon a fitful revival of her strength, at the beginning 
of 1 8 1 7, she fell eagerly to work at a story, of which 
she wrote twelve chapters. It has no name, and the 
plot and purpose are undeveloped. But some of the 
personages sketched have more than promise. There 
is a Mr. Parker with fixed theories as to the fashion- 
able watering place he hopes to evolve out of a Sussex 
fishing village ; there is a rich and vulgar Lady Denham, 
who will certainly disappoint her relatives by the testa- 
mentary disposition of her property, and there are two 
maiden ladies who thoroughly ' enjoy ' bad health, and 
quack themselves to their heart's content. Whatever 
tiie plot to be unravelled, there is no sign that the writer's 
hand had lost its cunning." (Mr. Austin Dobson's pre- 
face to Macmillan's edition of Northanger Abbey ^ 


We are told by Mr. Austen-Leigh that the date 
on the last chapter of this MS. was March 1 7, which, 
''as the watch of a drowned -man denotes the time 
of his death, so does this final date seem to fix the 
period when her mind could no longer pursue its 
accustomed course." 

It was in March that her own family began to 
think seriously of the malady that was so insidiously 
making inroads on her vitality. Her niece Caroline, 
Anna's half-sister, and sister of the Mr. Austen-Leigh 
to whose Memoir the world is so much indebted, was 
then a child of twelve; she came about the end of 
March to stay at Chawton, but found her aunt so ill 
that she could not be taken in, so she was sent on to 
her half-sister Anna Lefroy ; in her private records she 
gfives the following account from recollection: "The 
next day we walked over to Chawton to make enquiries 
after our aunt, she was then keeping her room, but said 
she would see us and we went up to her. She was 
in her dressing-gown, and was sitting quite like an 
invalid in an arm-chair, but she got up and kindly 
greeted us, and then pointing to seats which had been 
arranged for us by the fire, 'There is a chair for the 
married lady, and a little stool for you, Caroline.' . . . 
I was struck by the alteration in herself. She was 
very pale, her voice was weak and low, and there was 
about her a general appearance of debility and suffering, 
but I have been told that she never had much acute 
pain. She was not equal to the exertion of talking to 
us, and our visit to the sick room was a very short 
one, aunt Cassandra soon taking us away. I do not 
suppose we stayed a quarter of an hour, and I never 
saw aunt Jane again." 

It was in May that Jane was persuaded to go with 
her sister to lodgings in Winchester for the sake of 



further medical advice, and she never returned to 
Chawton, though probably that was the last thought 
that would have occurred to hw* on leaving it, for she 
was never inclined to be analytical or valetudinarian, 
and certainly she was one of the last to affect illness, 
or become an invalid for fancy. Cassandra cannot 
have known how soon she was to be bereaved of that 
dear sister whose life had run in such harmony with 
her own, and though anxiety -must have darkened her 
heart, Jane's own sanguineness would buoy her with 
fresh hope, and the weeks the sisters passed together 
in Winchester must have been singularly peaceful. 

The house in which Jane stayed still stands, it is 
in College Street, close to the great archway that marks 
the entrance to the College precincts. She says of it 
herself, "Our lod^ngs are very comfortable, we have 
a neat little drawing-room witii a bow window over- 
looking Dr. Gabell's garden." 

Here her life and strength slowly ebbed away; 
day by day she was longer chained to her sofa from 
increasing weakness. The elementary medical know- 
ledge of her day was powerless to help her, though 
her life, humanly speaking, could probably have been 
prolonged if medical science had then known what 
it knows now. 

Day by day through the bow window overlooking 
the street, would come the sound of boyish voices, the 
clatter of boyish feet, and she could see the greenery 
of the trees in the garden beyond the wall. She 
had plenty of companionship, Cassandra was ever with 
I her, and Mrs. James Austen helped in the nursing. 

; The slight sharpness arising from unusual penetra- 

tion, which had sometimes marked Jane's comments in 
earlier days, had all died down, she said gratefully to 
her sister-in-law, " You have always been a kind sister 


to me, Mary," and of her own dear Cassandra she said, 
" I will only say further that my dearest sister, my 
tender, watchful, indefatigable nurse, has not been made 
ill by her exertions. As to what I owe her, and the 
anxious affection of all my beloved family on this 
occasion, I can only cry over it, and pray Grod to bless 
them more and more." 

And on July 18, when all the trees were at their 
greenest, and the bright sunshine lighted up the walls 
of the hoary abbey, she passed away. We can add 
nothing to her sister's account, written in the agony 
of the first bereavement, to her who was now closest to 
her heart, her niece, Fanny Knight 

" My dearest Fanny, — Doubly dear to me now for 
her dear sake whom we have lost. She did love you 
most sincerely. . . . Since Tuesday evening when her 
complaint returned, there was a visible change, she slept 
more, and much more comfortably; indeed during the 
last eight and forty hours she was more asleep than 
awake. Her looks altered and she fell away, but I 
perceived no material diminution of strength, and, 
though I was then hopeless of her recovery, I had no 
suspicion how rapidly my loss was approaching. 

'' I have lost a treasure, such a sister, such a friend 
as never can have been surpassed. She was the sun of 
my life, the gilder of every pleasure, the soother of 
every sorrow, I had not a thought concealed from her, 
and it is as if I had lost a part of myself. 

" . . . She felt herself to be dying about half an 
hour before she became tranquil and apparently uncon- 
scious. During that half hour was her struggle, poor 
soul ! She said she could not tell us what she sufTered, 
though she complained of little fixed pain. When I 
asked her if there was anything she wanted, her answer 
was she wanted nothing but death, and some of her 



words were, ' God grant me patience ; pray for me, oh, 
pray for me I ' Her voice was aflfected, but as long as 
she spoke she was intelligible. 

** I hope I do not break your heart, my dearest 
Fanny, by these particulars, I mean to afford you gratifi- 
cation while I am relieving my own feelings. I could 
not write so to anybody else. . . . On Thursday, when 
the clock struck six, she was talking quietiy to me. I 
cannot say how soon afto'wards she was seized again 
with faintness, which was followed by the sufferings 
which she could not describe, but Mr. Ljrford who had 
been sent for, had applied something to give her ease, 
and she was in a state of quiet insensibility by seven 
o'clock at the latest. From that time till half past 
four when she ceased to breathe, she scarcely moved a 
limb, so that we have every reason to think with grati- 
tude to the Almighty, that her sufferings were over. A 
slight motion of the head with every breath remained 
till almost the last I sat close to her with a pillow in 
my lap to assist in supporting her head which was 
almost off the bed, for six^ hours ; fatigue made me then 
resign my place to Mrs. J. A. for two hours and a half, 
when I took it again, and in about an hour more she 
breathed her last. 

'' . . . There was nothing convulsed which gave the 
idea, of pain in her look; on the contrary, but for the 
continual motion of the head, she gave one the idea of 
a beautiful statue, and even now in her coffin, there is 
such a sweet serene air over her countenance as is quite 
pleasant to comtemplate." 

And later on after the funeral she wrote a^;ain, 
** Thursday was not so dreadful a day to me as you 
imagined. . . . Everything was conducted with the 
greatest tranquillity, and but that I was determined that 
I would see the last, and therefore was upon the listen, I 


should not have known when they left the house. I 
watched the little mournful procession the length of the 
street, and when it turned from my sight, and I had 
lost her for ever, even then I was not over-powered, nor 
so much- agitated as I am now in writing of it Never 
was a human being more sincerely mourned by those 
who attended her remains than was this dear creature. 
May the sorrow with which she is parted with on earth 
be a prognostic of the joy with which she is hailed in 
heaven ! . . . Oh, if I may one day be reunited to her 
there 1 " 

Cassandra herself survived for twenty-eight years, 
and spent her last days in the cottage at Chawton 
endeared to her by recollections of her mother and 
beloved sister. 

Jane's resting-place in the Cathedral is almost 
opposite the tomb of the founder, William of Wykeham. 
A large black slab of marble let into the pavement 
marks the spot, it bears an inscription including the 
following words: "The benevolence of her heart, the 
sweetness of her temper, and the extraordinary endow- 
ments of her mind obtained the regard of all who knew 
her, and the warmest love of her immediate connexions," 

Subsequently her nephew Mr. Austen-Leigh inserted 
a brass on the wall near with an inscription which runs 
as follows : " Jane Austen, known to many by her writing, 
endeared to her family by the varied charms of her 
character, and ennobled by Christian faith and piety, was 
bom at Steventon in the county of Hampshire Dec. 16, 
1775, and buried in this cathedral July 24, 1817. 
* She openeth her mouth with wisdom and in her tongue 
is the law of kindness.' " 

In 1900 a memorial window was inserted as the 
result of a public subscription ; it was designed and 
executed by C. E. Kemp. In the head of the window 


is a figure of St. Augustine whose name in its abbreviated 
form is St Austin. In the centre of the upper row of 
lights is David with his harp. Below his figure, in 
Latin, are the words, '' Remember in the Lord. Jane 
Atisten who died July i8, A.D. 1817." In tfai& centre 
of: the bottom row is the figure of St. John, asfd the 
remaining figures are those of the sons of Korah carry- 
ing scrolls, with sentences in Latin, indicative of the 
religious side of Jane Austen's character, namely, " Come 
ye children, hearken unto me ; I will teach you the fear 
of the Lord." " Them that are meek shall He guide in 
judgement, and such as are gentle them shall He teach 
His way." ** My mouth shall speak of wisdom and 
my heart shall muse on understanding." '^My mouth 
shall daily speak of Thy righteousness and Thy 

That Jane was so deeply and dearly loved by her 
own people speaks much for her worth. She and 
Cassandra, especially Cassandra, were very reticent in 
their expression of feeling, but seldom has heart been 
knit to heart as were theirs. The love of sisters has not 
often formed the theme of song or romance ; we hear of 
a mother's love for her son, of a brother for a brother, 
but the love of sisters is, when it exists in perfection, as 
strong as these, as pure in its spring, and more full of 
feeling. Sisters whose hearts are open to one another, 
who have shared the same experiences, look on the 
world from a similar standpoint, and the breaking of such 
ties is severe agony. At only forty-one Jane had passed 
away still in the highest maturity of her powers, leaving 
behind her but six completed books, all short, but each 
one perfect in itself. This is what will be said of her — 
She did what she attempted to do perfectly. The books 
are all instinct with the same qualities, the precision of 
word and phrase, the genius for knowing what to select 


and what to leave unsaid, but not one is a repetition of 
another, in the whole gallery of characters each one Is 

She was a real artist Her work lay apart from and 
outside of herself. We do not find a picture of herself 
under different names playing heroine in different sets of 
circumstances; each heroine stands by herself, and in 
her women's portraits she reaches her high-water mark — 
Elizabeth Bennet, Emma Woodhouse, Fanny Price, 
Anne Elliot, Catherine Morland, Elinor Dashwood, we 
know each one as a friend, and each one is completely 

So brilliant, so perfect, so stamped with Its own 
individuality is each of the books, that one wonders what 
she could possibly have produced next to take rank with 
its forerunners. Within so small a compass, with such a 
narrow stage on which to set the dramatis pirsona^ how 
did she manage to make so great a variety ? 

It is in keeping with her character and work that there 
should be no decline, no falling off, that all should be good ; 
it is true that some of the novels are preferred by onoi 
some by another ; some are stronger in one point, some 
in another, but neither decay nor improvement can Justly 
be found between first and last. This is genius. Genius 
cannot grow nor can it be cultivated, it is there, and Its 
work is done without effort and without labour. If Jane 
had not died at so early an age, her life would not have 
seemed so complete, so rounded as it did. Her dying In 
the full plenitude and maturity of power Is In keeping 
with the level excellence of her work. 

Her life had been a happy one, free from mind 
worries, free from great sorrows, her affections had wide 
play, her tastes full development ; she was happy In the 
love of one very near and dear, and if she missed great 
ecstasies, she at least had no hideous sorrows to endure 


in the sin or vice of those near to her. Her one great 
sorrow was perhaps the death of her father, but he was 
not young, and in the natural course of events his death 
cannot be called unexpected. Sunny, well-occupied, 
surrounded with the refinements that a sensitive mind 
appreciates, she lived out a life on a high uniform level. 
Her books supplied a motive and mainspring that other- 
wise might have been felt to be lacking by one so 
enei^tic If, as has been said, happiness on earth 
demands ** someone to love, something to do, and some- 
thing to hope for," she had all these, and much more. 





. PnUislied. 

Pride and Prejudice 
(First Impresaoos) 

Oct 1796 

Aug. 1797 

Early in 1813 


Sense and Sensibility 
(Elinor and Marianne) 

Nov. 1797 


June 181 1 

Nortfaanger Abbey . 




Mansfield P^udc 


Mar. 1814 

July 1814 

1814 or 1815 


Dec 1815 


1815 or 1816 

Aug. 1816 





Steventon, Hants • 

4 Sydney Terrace . 
Green Park Buildings 
25 Gay Street . 


Chawton, Hants . 

b, Dec 16, 1775 

Spring 1801 
Autumn 1804 
March 1805 

End of 1805 

Autumn 1809 

Spring 1801 

Autumn 1804 

d, July 18, 1817 





II — 
































^ c 
o - 









I ^ 

5 n 









Acting, 291-295. 

Alexander, Emperor, 272. 

Alexandria, Battle of, 253. 

Alger, J. G., on travel, lo-ii. 

Allen, Ralph, iii. 

Amiens, Treaty of, 254. 

Art of the period, 8-9. 

Ashton, John, on the press-gang, 
206-207 ; on feminine costume, 

Austen family — 
Connections, 16. 
Genealogical table of, 326. 

Austen, Anna (niece), see Lefroy. 

Austen, Caroline (niece), on Jane's 
illness, 317. 

Austen, Cassandra (sister), Jane's 
attachment to, 18, 19, 31, 116, 
322 ; engagement of, 19 ; Jane's 
letters destroyed by, 20 ; visits to 
Goodnestone and Godmersham, 
253, 258, 262-263 ; at Win- 
chester, 317-319; letters after 
Jane's death, 319-321 ; last days 
of, 321 ; cited— <m the sea-side 
romance, 131-132; otherwise 
mentioned, 166-167, 303. 

Austen, Cassy (niece), 297. 

Austen, Adm. Charles John (brother), 
marriages of, 19, 297 ; naval career 

of> I9f I97» I99» 208; at God- 
mersham, 296 ; at Chawton (1816), 
315; mentioned, 107. 
Austen, Mrs. Charles (Fanny Palmer), 

I9» 297. 
Austen, Edward (brother), see Knight 
Austen, Adm. of the Fleet Francis 

(brother), marriages of, 19, 256; 

naval career of, 151, 196-199; 

shares the home at Southampton, 

256; otherwise mentioned, 148, 


Austen, Mrs. Francis (Mary Gibson)^ 
256, 258. 

Austen, Mrs. Francis (Martha Lloyd), 
popularity of, with the Austens, 17, 
256-257, 263; marriage of, 19, 
256 ; at Bath, 254 ; at Southamp* 
ton, 256-257. 

Austen, Rev. George (father), career 
of, 15-16 ; retirement to Bath, 212- 
213 ; hobbies, 2x3 ; income, 215 ; 
death, 133, 213, 223 ; character- 
istics, 41, 62; otherwise men- 
tioned, 59, 177. 

Austen, Mrs. (mother), health of, 
59-60 ; income of, 255, 256 ; at 
Chawton, 269 ; mentioned, 184. 

Austen, Rev. Henry (brother), mar- 
riages of, 18, 280 ; Jane's literary 
affairs managed by, x8, 193, 272 | 
Memoir by, prefixed to Northangtr 
Abbey, 57-58, I94i 315 J sponsor 
to Edward Cooper (junior), xi8; 
Jane's visits to, 278, 288, 298, 303 ; 
illness of, 363--304; at Chawton 
(1816), 315 ; in (Orders, 316 ; career 
of, 149 ; estimate of, 278 ; eiied—on 
Mansfield Park, 273, 276 ; other* 
wise mentioned, 148, 293. 

Austen, Mrs. Henry (Eliza de 
Feuillade), 18, 1x2, 278, 288. 

Austen, Mrs. Henry (Eleanor 
Jackson), 18, 288. 

Austen, Rev. James (brother), mar* 
riages of, 17 ; at Steventon, 212- 
213; visit to Southampton, 258^ 
visit to Godmersham (x8o8), 260* 
262 ; otherwise mentioned, 194, 

Austen, Mrs. James (Mary Lloyd), 
Jane's attitude towards, 214, 258, 
261, 318-319; on Harriet Moore^ 






Austen, Jane — 

Career — parentage and family, 
15-19; childhood, 23, 26, 31; 
sdiool days, 31, 32; home Ufe, 
71 ; early writings, 77-78; visits to 
relatives, 19,66, 105, 119, 133, 
148-15 1 ; offers of marriage, 129, 
131 ; romance, 131, 262, 268 ; 
Pride and Prejudice^ 176, 184- 
185 ; Sense and Sensibilityy 185, 
1 88-1 89 ; Narthanger Abbey ^ 189, 
193-194 ; removal to Bath, 212- 
213, 215-218 ; Green Park Build- 
ings and Gay Street, 223 ; at 
Lyme, 249-251 ; visit to God- 
mersham (1805), 251 ; move to 
Southampton, 251, 254; visits 
to Eastwell and Goodnestone, 
253 ; at Southampton, 257-258 ; 
at Chawton, 267-270 ; visits to 
London, 278-279, 286-288 ; 
theatre-going, 290, 293-295 ; at 
Godmersham (1813), 296 ; nurs- 
ing Henry (181 5), 298, 303-304; 
interview with Prince Regent's 
librarian, 304-305 ; failing health, 
314-319 ; last work, 316-317 ; at 
Winchester,3i8 ; death, 319-320; 
tomb and memorials, 321-322. 
Characteristics — 
Appearance, 58. 
Asperity, 129. 
Cheerfulness, 58, 129, 324. 
Critical faculty, 185. 
Fastidiousness, 129, 132. 
Health, 58-59. 
Humour, i, 181. 
Narrowness of vision, 50, 254. 
Penetration and grasp of detail, 

I»9f49f 81,95. 129,132,318. 

Practicality, 58. 

Selective faculty, 311. 

Superficiality, 58. 

Vivacity and wit, 123, 129. 
Comparison of, with Fanny 

Burney, 87, 97; with George 

Eliot, loo-ioi ; with Charlotte 

Bronte, 103-104; with Maria 

Edgeworth^ 1 8 i-i 82. 
Estimates of, unfavourable, 128. 
Portrait of, at 15, 32 ; later, 57. 
Austen - Leigh, James Edward 
(nephew), birth of, 194 ; name of 
Leigh assumed by, 17, 216; 

Memoir of Jane Austen by, 17 ; 
memorial brass inserted by, 321 ; 
quoted — on Steventon, 13, 14; on 
Jane's popularity with children, 23 ; 
on Jane's accomplishments, 32-33 ; 
on furniture, 63 ; on Jane's early 
writings, 78 ; on the Coopers, 1 18 ; 
on minuets, 126 ; on the sea-side 
romance, 131-132 ; on the home 
at Southampton, 255 ; on Henry 
Austen, 278 ; on Persuasion^ 314- 
315, 317; cited—OTL minuet-danc- 
ing, 223 ; letters in the Memoir, 249, 
276 ; The IVcUsons in the Memmr, 
251 ; cancelled chapter of Persua- 
sion in the Memoir, 315. 

Baillie, Joanna, 172. 
Bath, at, 222-225. 

Country, 1 19-120. 

Dances at, 121 {su also Dancing). 

Dress at, 124-127 ; masculine, 126. 

Etiquette of, 121-123. 

Evelina, account in, 1 21-123. 

Formality of, 121. 

Partners at, 121-123. 

Bateson, Mary, cited, 238. 
Abbey, 219. 

Assembly Rooms, 220-221. 

Austens' removal to, 212-213, 
215-218 ; house in Sydney Place, 
219 ; table of residences, 325. 

Balls at, 222-225. 

Characteristics of the town, 219. 

House-hunting in, 215-218. 

Nash's renovation of, 220-221, 

New Guide on, 224. 

Pump Room, 219-220. 

Society of, reproduced in North- 
anger Abb^, 189-190. 
Besant, Sir Walter, quoted — on 

eighteenth-century morals, 95 ; on 

franking of letters, 113-II4; 00 

wigs, 235-236. 
" Blue-stocking," origin of epithet, 7. 
Boothby, Capt. Charles, quoted, 

Braboume, Lord, family of, 18, 301 ; 

cited — on the Coopers, 1 1 7-1 18; 

on Fanny Knight, 270; quitted — 

on Godmersham, 251-252, 261. 



Brasbzidge, Joseph, cUedy 114. 
Bridges, Harriet, see Moore. 
Bridges, Louisa, 148, 149. 
Bridges, Marianne, 253. 
Bronte, Charlotte, compared with 

George Eliot, 100-102 j with Jane 

Austen, 103-104. 
Brydges, Sir Egerton, on Jane's 

appearance, 57. 
Burnet, Bishop, quoted^ 47. 
Bumey, Fanny, works of, 86-87, 97 ; 

Macaulay's criticism of, 1 64-165 ; 

Walpole's criticism of, x6c j lively 

environment of, 164 ; citeJr^n the 

Court, 305-306. 
Byron, 173. 

Cage, Lewis, 148, 149. 
Camilla, 165. 
Campbell, Thomas, 173. 
C^js, 230-232. 
Card g^unes, 5, 127. 
Cecilia, 86, 87, 97, 165, 176. 
Charades, 264. 

Chawton Cot^ge, Austens' home at, 

Chawton House — 

'Aoqidsition o^ by Edward Knidtt, 
17. ^*^ 

Lawsuit conoeimng, 128, 297. 

Value o<, 255, 297. 

?- 65, 67, 77; tiavdliiig dtsaOxd : 


Jane's aititadc towards, 23-24 ; ' 

W popolazi^ with, 23 ; her de- 

fcneaaoo c^ 24-27, 
TreaOBcnt o^ 23, 27. 
C rimcfe q, 38-39, 

^aencc, Dake of .'TVUSmi it ' wjr, 
CarisMizme, 168. '^ 

Oarire- , 3ic, 304-30^ 

F . TOnrni a rnn oC 5br OnieB^ 46-47. 
Jsiej Kansas no, 43. 

Coleridgei 173. 

Comedy of Jane Auat«ni oharMtar of, 

I, oo« 

Cooper, Dr., 1x7, 1x9. 

Cooper, Kdward, xx7-xi8. 

Cooper, Jane (Lftdy Williama), xx8. 

Country Chrgyman-^Utdt 40. 

Country gentlemen, 91. 

Cowper, Willitm, Jtno'ii pArtlnllty 
for, X4, (8, X69, 170, 958 ) qucitd"^ 
on the clergy, 37, 40 \ on condltlim 
of Ubourerti, 74. 

Crabbe, X70-17X, 293. 

Dancing, lax, 133 -124, 126-198) 

the walt£, X3I } the minuet, f 26, 

223 j the quadrille, X 27- 1 28, 149 j 

the Boulangeries, 149. 
Deportment, 121. 
Dobson, Austin^ cilid, M, X89; 

quoted, 316. 
Dockwra, William^ xo^-f xx. 
Dress — 

Academic, 239. 

Ball, 125*127. 

Ci4», 2y>^^, 

Cloak*, 2^. 

Ejceesses m, 221^-^1^, 

Fabrics, 241-242 ; cost of, 241-243^ 

Vamrant oMmntik, 73^ 23^^-24!/ 

Fmit'wearmil^ 229U 

232, 234, 283 J wf^, ny^y^f 


Jane Aaiten^f hcfc *>/ wfer-^ivjit f//, 
in the iM^efo, 4 ; port^^tU^ ^ 
seixf/irA #-/, »v a ietf^^, 24^ 

MascsHne^ 126, 24^-^47^ 

3iCantt^(3«ta^ 231^ 

Xighc-fsui, 232-23^ 

SomeacBCjce ')<', 243^ 


^ 207; J 



Mmma — 




, w^ Harriet, 139- 



.LeH^lli uf, 80. 

l^ve depicted in, 136. 



SCott s review of, 

Otherwise mentioned, 6^70, ^3-^, 

91, 97f "5. 135- 
Entertainments, 120. 

Evelina^ 87, 164, 186; ciud^ 121* 


Fairchild Family^ The — cited^ 28- 

Fashion (su also Dress) — 

Bare necks, 220, 240. 

Excesses of, 229-230, 240, 244. 

Hair-dressins, 233-236, 239. 
Ferrier, Miss, 82, 98, 174. 
First Impressions^ see Pride and 

Flirtation, 119, 129-130. 
Food, prices of, 70-71, 77. 
Foreign affiadrs, outline of, 49-56, 

253-2541 259-260, 270-272, 297- 

Fox, George, 247, 259. 
French Revolution and Reign of 

Terror, 50-53. 
Furniture, 63. 

Gardening, 71-72. 

Garrick, David, 161, 291, 292. 

Gas, 284-285. 

Geography of the period, 6-7. 

George in.. King, 94, 235, 305-306. 

Gibson, Mary (Mrs. F. Austen), 256, 

Gloucester, Duke of, 253. 
Godmershsim — 

Acquisition of, by Edward Knight, 

17, 148. 
Description of, 251-252. 
Temple Plantation, 261. 
Goodnestone, visits to, 253. 

Gordon, Duchess of (1791), 56. 

Gosse, Edmund, on eighteenth-cen- 
tury literature, 169. 

Grosley, M., queied — on English 
break&sts, 66 ; on wages, 73 ; on 
c^M^ching, 157-158; cm King 
George in., 215 ; on London, 
280-281, 283-286; on the stage, 

Hair-dressing, 231, 233-234 ; feathers, 
125, 232, 234, 283 ; wigs, 235-236^ 
239 ; powder, 237-239. 

Hastings, Warxen, 56. 

Hats and bonnets, 234. 

Hatton, George, 253. 

Highwaymen, 158-160. 

HiU, Constance, Htedy 46. 

Hill, Rowland, 109, iii. 

Housekeeping, 65. 

Inchbald, Mrs., 172. 

India, affidrs of, 55-56. 

Ireland, union of, with England, 55. 

Jackson, Eleanor (Mrs. H. Austen), 

Jane Austen and Her Contemporaries 
— quoted^ 92. 

Johnson, Dr. Samuel, Jane's parti- 
ality for, 58, 169 ; Fanny Bumey 
influenced by, 164-165 ; wigs of, 
236; otherwise mentionai, 164, 171. 

Kean, Charles, 294-295. 

Kemble, 291. 

Kensington Gardens, 28S-289. 

Kent, Duke of, 307 ; letter of, to 
Mr. Creevy, 94. 

Kentish Country Houu^ A — cited^ 

Knatchbull, Lady (Fanny Catherine 
Knight) (niece), Jane's attachment 
to, 18, 252, 270, 288; shop- 
ping with, 287 ; letter to, on 
marriage, etc., 298-301 ; Cas- 
sandra^ letters to, after Jane's 
death, 319-321 ; estimate of, 260- 
261, 263 ; marriage and £uxuly of, 
18, 301 ; mentioned, 19. 

Knight, Mr., presents Steventon to 
George Austen, 16 ; adopts Edward 
Austen, 17^ 148 ; mentioned, 59^ 

Knight, Mrs., 17, 148, 261. 



Knight, Edward (brother), adopted 
by his cousin, 17, 148; marnage 
of, 18 ; Jane's visits to (1796), 148- 
151; (1805), 251-252; (1808), 
260-261 ; lawsuit concerning 
Chawton, 128, 297 ; family o^ 
252 ; offers Chawton Cottage to his 
mother, 266 ; otherwise mentioned, 
133, 255, 287, 293, 303. 

Knight, Mrs. E. (Elizabeth Bridges), 
I33» 148 ; death of, 260, 262-263. 

Knight, Edward (nephew), 150, 263- 
264, 296. 

Knight, Fanny (niece), see KnatchbuU. 

Knight, George (nephew), 263-264, 

Labourers — 

Condition of, 73-75. 

Wages of, 76. 
I^Ackington (bookseller), 114. 
Lady Susan, 99. 
Landor, W. S., 239. 
Langdale, Loid, quoted-^oii travel, 

10 ; on night-caps, 233. 
LAtoumelle, Mrs., 31. 
Lefroy, Mrs. Benjamin (Anna Austen) 

(niece), at Chawton, 269 ; novel- 
writing by, 301-302 ; marriage of, 

302; cited, 131-133 ; mentioned, 17. 
Lefroy, Tom, 107, 119, 129-130. 
Leigh, Rev. Thomas (grandfather), 

16, 118. 
Leigh-Perrot, Mrs., 119, 216. 
letters of Jane Austen — 

Contemporary events, lack of refer- 
ence to, 5, 9. 

Date of earliest published, 106, 117. 

Pettiness in, 214-215. 

Style of, 107. 
Letters of the period — 

Carriage of, 109-111. 

Cost of transmission of, 109, III, 
114, 116. 

Fetching of, 1 1 5-1 1 6. 

Form of, 108. 

Franking of, 1 1 2-1 15. 

Importance of, as news-carriers, 6. 

Style of, 106-107. 
Liston, 293, 294. 
Literature of the period — 

Leading works of, classified, 171- 

Novels, see that title. 

Lloyd, Martha, see Austen, Mrs. F. 
London of the period — 

Coaches in, 282. 

Dangers of, 283-284. 

Dirt of, 281-282. 

Extent of, 279-280. 

F<^s of, 285. 

Kensington Gardens, 288-289. 

Lighting; of, 284-285. 

Paving m, 280-282. 

Postage arrangements in, 109-110* 

Press-gang in, 207. 

Rent, etc, in, 286. 

Shops in, 286. 

Streets in, 285. 

Theatres in, 290-292 ; private, 193. 

Watchmen in, 284. 

Love, 135-1391 146-147- 
Lyme, 249-251. 

Macaulay, Lord, quoted — on Jane 
Austen's art, 84 ; on novels previous 
to Miss Bumey's, 86; on Miss 
Bume/s environment, 164 ; on 
her work, 164-165. 

Mail-coaches, 111-112. 

Mansfield Park — 
Characters of, 210-21 1, 273-275; 
children, 26-27 ; clerical char- 
acters, 43-46 ; Fanny Price, 314. 
Date of, 98. 

Education described in, 29-30. 
Minuet described in, 126. 
Publication of, 277. 
Scene of, 257, 275. 
Second edition of, 311. 
Writing of, 270, 273. 
Otherwise mentioned, 4, 62, 82-83, 
104, 145, 256, 310. 

Marriage — 
Jane Austen's view of, 137, 144- 

Modem attitude towards, 139. 

Marriage^ 82, 98, 174. 

Matches, sulphur, 64. 

Mathews, Charles, 293, 294. 

Meal times, 65-67, 162. 

Meals, 68. 

Mitford, Miss, description of Jane 
Austen given to, 128 ; list of books 
read by, 168-169 > publication of 
Our Village by, 174 ; quoted— on 
M. St. Quintin's, 31-32; on the 
waltz, 121 ; on morning calls, 162; 



on fVaverley, 173 ; on Pride and 
Prtjudice^ 181-182 ; on Kean, 295 ; 
cited — on Self Control^ 167; on 
the Chawton lawsuit, 297. 

Mitford, Mrs., recollections of Jane 
Austen by, 128. 

Montagu, Mrs., 7. 

Moore, Mrs. (Harriet Bridges), at 
Godmersham, 261-262 ; mentioned, 

148, 149. 253- 

Moore, Sir J., 265. 

Moore, Thomas, 173. 

Morals, 94-95. 

More, Hannah, fitting of, 161 ; 
jfwpalar estimate of, 172 ; plays 
Dy, 162-163 ; quoted — on Mis. 
Montagu, 7 ; on children, 27 ; on 
mail-coaches, 112; on abolition of 
letter-franking, 114-115 ; on dress, 
243 ; cited — on fruit-wearing, 229- 
230; Calebs in Search of a Wife^ 
see that title. 

Morning calls, 162. 

Mothers as depicted by Jane Austen, 
60-62, 89-90, 188. 

Mourning, 253. 

Murray, Mr., 310-312. 

Names, female, 90. 

Napoleon Bonaparte, 53-54, 253- 

254, 259-260, 271, 297, 298. 
Nash, Beau, 220-223, 247-248. 
Navy — 

Bounties, system of, 206. 

Captains accompanied by their 
families, custom of, 296. 

Corruption in, 204. 

Hardships of, 201-205. 

Interest, abuse of, 20^209. • 

Mutiny in, 209-210. 

Officers' careers in, 201. 

Press for, 206-207. 

Prize-money in, 207-208. 

Victories of, 199-200. 
New Guide, The — quoted^ 224, 

Night-caps, 232-233. 
Northanger Abbey — 

Ball described in, 225-226. 

Biographical Memoir prefixed to, 
58, 90, 194. 

Date of, 98. 

Estimates of, 189, 193. 

Local colour in, 227. 

Northanger ^AA^'— continued. 

Preface to, by Jane Austen, 194. 

Publication of, 315. 

Publisher's neglect of, 193, 251. 

Scene and characters of, 189-193. 

Otherwise mentioned, 4, 13, 43, 
47, 82, 88, 119, 124, 145, 224- 
225, 247. 
Novelists prior to Jane Austen, 85. 
Novels of Jane Austen {su also 
separate titles) — 

Character the main feature of^ 4, 102. 

Characters of, 91-92 ; children, 
24-27 ; mothers, 60-62, 89-90, 
188 ; male characters, 186, 210- 
211 ; secondary characters, 308. 

Comedy of, i, 88. 

Humanity of, 81, 84. 

Humour of, 81. 

Individuality of, 323. 

Modernity of, 5. 

Refinement of, 94--95. 

Religion, lack of mention of, 90. 

Scenery ignored in, 14. 

Selective art exhibited in, 82, 95, 

Style of, 97. 

Tabular list of, 325. 

Novels of the period — 

Character of, 85-86, 168. 

Gosse's classification of, 169. 

Jane Austen's reading of, 166. 

Omnibuses, 282. 
Our Village^ 174. 

Palmer, Fanny' see Austen, Mrs. C. 
Pi^)endick, Mrs., quoted — on plate 

and services, 69; on hair-powder, 

238 ; on dress, 231, 241. 
Parish visiting, 73. 
Perrot, see Leigh- Perrot. 
Persuasion — 

Characters in, 210-211; Anne 
Elliot, 314. 

Date of, 98. 

Estimate of, 313. 

Local colour in, 227-228. 

Love depicted in, 137-138. 

Publication of, 315. 

Scene of, 249-250, 314. 

Writing of, 312, 314-315- 

Otherwise mentioned, 24, 62, 90, 
2o8» 224-225, 296. 



Petrel (ship sloop), 198-199. 
Plate and services, 68-69. 
Pollock, Mr., cited^ 92, 310. 
Porter Jane, 166. 
Post office, development ot, 109-111, 

Post-boys, III. 

Pow3rs, Mrs. Philip Lybbe (Caroline 
Girle), 117, 119; quoted — on 
Steventon inn, 12 ; on Holkham, 
67 ; on an evening party, 127 ; on 
highway robbery, 160 ; on boy 
officers, 209 ; on Bath balls, 223- 
224 ; on Southampton, 257 ; on 
Wedgwood's, 287 ; on medical 
treatment, 303. 
Pride and Prejudice — 
Characters of — Mr. CoUins, 35- 
36, 183-184 ; jeaixabeth, 58, 81, 
95-96, I23f 17^180, 182; 
IHurcy, 179-181 ; Jane Bingley, 
Date of, 98. 

Emma compared with, 308-3 la 
First Impressions the original title 

of, 99, 176. 
Improbability in, 187. 
Opmions on — by Sir W. Scott, 
182 ; by Miss Mitford, 181- 
182 ; by Jane Austen, 184-185. 
Publication of, 276-277. 
Publisher's refusal of, 177. 
Social caste in, 92-93. 
Otherwise mentioned, 58, 81-82, 
124, 128, 145. 
Prince Regent, Emma dedicated to, 
i63f 30S1 307 ; librarian of, 304- 
305 ; character of, 306-307 ; home 
of, 286. 

Raddiffe, Mrs., 88, 172, 189. 
Readences of Jane Austen, table of, 


Roads, state of, 75, 1 16, 151-154. 

Rogers, Samuel, Pleasures of 
Memory published by, 173 ; 
omnibus story of, 282 ; quoted—on 
novels, 168; on hair-powdering, 
239; cited— on head-dresses, 234; 
on Fox, 247 ; on executions, 284. 

Romance, Scott's plea for, 134-135. 

Rowling, life at, 148-150. 

St. Vincent, Battle of, aco. 

Scott, Sir W., review of Emma by, 

I34-I35t 310-31 1 ; authorship of 

Wavtrley imputed to, 173 ; cited — 

on Pride ana Prejudice^ 182. 
Seeker, Archbishop, citedy 35, 38. 
Sedan chairs, 282-283. 
Self Control^ opinions on, 167-168. 
Selwyn, George, cited^ 283-284. 
Sense and Sensibility — 

Anonymous issue of, 163. 

Characters of — children, 24-26 ; 
Elinor, 136 ; male characters, 
186-187 » minor characters, 188. 

Date of, 98. 

Estimate of, 189. 

Improbability in, 187. 

Letter form of, 185. 

Marriage, views on, depicted iUi 

Origin of, 78. 

Publication of, 268, 272-273. 

Revision of, 270. 

Title of, 177. 

Otherwise mentioned, 26, 43, 47, 
61-62, 83, 89, 91, 13s, 136, 
Servants, wages of, 72-73. 
Seward, Anna, 172. 
Sheridsm, R. B., old age of, 164; 

plays of, 172. 
Sherwood, Mrs., 28, 31. 
Shopping, 286-287. 
Siddons, Mrs., 292. 
Sloane, Sir Hans, 279. 
Social England — citaiy 238. 
Society of the period, entr^ of, i6l. 
Southampton, 251, 254. 
Southey, Robert, 173. 
Stephens, Miss, 293, 294. 
Steventon Rectory — 

Description of, 12. 

Sale of furniture of, 21 8. 

Situation of, 12-14. 
Style of the eighteenth century, 97, 

Swords, wearing of, 124-125, 282. 

Tea, price of, 77. 
Tim&aire, mutineers on, 209. 
Theatres, 290-292 ; private, 293. 
Thompson, Capt Edward, on the 

navy, 202r-20'^. 
Thomson, Richard, quoted^ 1 56. 
Tilsit, Peace of, 259. 



Times of the period — 
** Baby officers '* satirised in, 309. 
Dress fashions satirised in, 125, 

Form of, 107-108. 

Kensington Gardens exit advocated 

by, 2S8-2S9. 
Press-gang's activities described in, 

Private theatres mentioned in, 

Tips, 150-151. 

Trafalgar, Battle of, 257. 
Conditions of, 9-1 1. 
Ladies, by, 159. 

Methods of— post, 151, 158-159; 
by waggon, 153-154; by private 
chaise, 154-155 ; by coach, 155- 

United States of America, secession 
of, 56. 

Vicar of Wakefield, The^cUed, 34. 

Walpole, Horace, letters of, 108, 113 ; 
death of, 171 ; quoted— on church- 
going, 39 ; on the French Revolu- 
tion, 51 ; on village merry-makings, 
75-76 ; on highway robbery, i& ; 
on Fanny Bumey, 165 ; on the 
Duke of Clarence, 307 ; cited— oTi 
Twickenham, 115 ; on dress, 245. 

fVatsonSf TAe, 66, 99, 251 ; child 
character in, 26. 

Wedgwood, 287. 

Whateley, Archbishop, quoted, 84, 
87, i£(9. 

Wigs, 235-236, 239. 

Winchester, 78, 317-319, 321. 

Women, advancement in position of, 

Wordsworth, William, 173. 

York, Duke of, post office the 
monopoly of, 109-110 ; robbed by 
highwaymen, 160; character of, 

Young, Arthur, quoted — on French 
cle^y, 37 ; on roads, 152 ; cited 
—on food prices, 70; on wages, 
73. 76. 

Prmttd fy Morrison & Gibb Limitsd, EdinhtrgA